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By Joseph McCabe 

Peter Abelard 

St. Augustine and His Age 

A Candid History of the Jesuits 

Crises in the History of the 


in the 

History of the Papacy 

A Study of 

Twenty Famous Popes whose Careers and 

whose Influence Were Important in the 

Development of the Church and 

in the History of the World 


Joseph McCabe 

Author of " Peter Abelard," " Life of Saint AnguttiM/' eto. 

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G. P. Putnam's Sons 

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PROBABLY no religious institution in the world has 
had so remarkable a history, and assuredly none 
has attracted so large and varied a literature, as the 
Papacy. The successive dynasties of the priests of 
ancient Egypt were, by comparison, parochial in their 
power and ephemeral in their duration. The priests of 
Buddha, rising to an autocracy in the isolation of 
Thibet or mingling with the crowd in the more genial 
atmosphere of China or cherishing severe mysticisms 
in Japan, oflfer no analogy to the Papacy's consistent 
growth and homogeneous dominion. The religious 
leaders of the Jews, scattered through the world, yet 
hardened in their type by centuries of persecution, 
may stupass it in conservative antiquity, but they do 
not remotely approach it in power and in historical 
importance. It influences th^^iustory. of Europe more 
conspicuously than emperors have ever done, stretches a 
more than imperial power over l^ds beyond the most 
fevered dreams of Ale^wfldfer pr.j^bsar, and may well 
seem to have made "£tdnial iicine" something more 
than the idle boast of a patriot. 

Yet this conservative endurance has not been 
favoured by such a stability of environment as has 
sheltered the lamas of Thibet or the secular priests of 
the old Chinese ^ligion. The Papacy has lived through 
fifteen centiuies of portentous change, though it seemed 


iv Prefece 

in each phase to have connected itself indissolubly with 
the dominant institutions and ideas of that phase. 
The Popes have witnessed, and have survived, three 
mighty transformations of the face of Europe. They 
had hardly issued from their early obscurity and lodged 
themselves in the fabric of the old Roman civilization 
when this fell into ruins; but they held firmly, amidst 
the ruins, the sceptre they had inherited. One by one 
the stately institutions of the older worid — ^the schools, 
the law-courts, the guilds of craftsmen, the military 
system, the mtmicipal forms and commercial routes — 
disappeared in the flood of barbarism which poured over 
Europe, but this institution, which seemed the least 
firmly established, was hardly shaken and was quickly 
accepted by the strange new worid. A new polity was 
created, partly under the direction of the Popes, and it 
was so entirely saturated by their influence that religion 
gave it its most characteristic name. Then Christen- 
dom, as it was called, passed in turn through a critical 
development, culminating in the Reformation; and 
the Papacy begot a Counter-Reformation and secured 
millions beyond the seas to replace the millions it had 
lost. The third and last convulsion began with the 
work of Voltaiijef ^d KqUs^iI a$^ Mirabeau, and has 
grievously shaken the. pglitlcaj 'ifieoiy with which the 
Papacy was allied ajiajthfe-jdldeJ" teligious views which it 
had stereotyped.'. .•Yet; has some 35,000,000 
followers in the thite^"gr^t«5t«J^rotestant countries, 
the lands of Luther, of Henry VIII., and of the Puritan 

It must seem a futile design to attempt to tell, wi£h 
any intelligent satisfaction, within the limits of a -small 
volume the extraordinary story of this institution. 
No serious historian now tries to command more than 

Preface v 

a section of the record of the Papacy, and he usually 
finds a dozen volumes required for the adequate present- 
ment of that section. Yet there is something to be 
said for such a sketch as I propose to give. If we take 
four of the more important recent histories of the 
Papacy — ^those of Father Grisar, Dr. Mann, Dr. Pastor, 
and Dr. Creighton — ^we find that the joint thirty 
volumes do not cover the whole period of Papal history 
even to the sixteenth centtuy; and the careful student 
will not omit to include in his reading the still valuable 
voltunes of Milman and of Dr. Langer. In other words, 
he must study more than fifty volumes if he would have 
an incomplete account of the development of the 
Papacy up to the time of the Reformation, and more 
than that ntunber if he would follow accurately the 
fortunes of the Papacy since the days of Paul III. The 
history of the Papacy is very largely the history of 
£tut)pe, and this voltmunous expansion is inevitable. 
On the other hand, the general student of the history 
of Europe and the general reader who seeks intellectual 
pleasure in "the storied page" are not only repelled by 
such an array of tomes, but they have no interest in a 
vast proportion of the matter which it is inctmibent on 
the ecclesiastical historian to record. One wants a view 
of the Papacy in the essential lines of its development, 
and they are usually lost, or not easily recognized, in 
the conscientiously full chronicles. Is it possible to 
give a useful and informing account of the essential 
history of the Papacy in a small volume? 

The rare attempts to do this that have been made 
have failed from one or other of two causes : they have 
either been written with a controversial aim and there- 
fore have given only the higher lights or darker shades 
of the picture, or they have been mere siunmaries of 


vi Preface 

the larger works, mingling what is relevant and what is 
not relevant from the developmental point of view. The 
design which occurs to me is to write a study of the 
Papacy by taking a score of the outstanding Popes — 
which means, in effect, a score of the more significant 
or critical stages in the development of the Papacy — 
and giving an adequate account of the work and per- 
sonality of each. The evolution of the Papacy has not, 
like the evolution of life in general, been continuous. 
It has had periods of stagnation and moments of rapid 
progress or decay. Of the first hundred Popes, scarcely 
a dozen contributed materially to the making of the Pap- 
acy: the others maintained or marred the work of the 
great Popes. It is the same with the environment of the 
Papacy, which has influenced its fortunes as profoundly / 
as changes of environment have affected the advance 
of terrestrial life. There have been long drowsy sirni- 
mers closed by something like ice ages; there have been 
convtdsions and strange invasions, stimulating advance 
by their stem and exacting pressure. I propose to 
select these more significant periods or personalities of 
Papal history, and trust that the resultant view of the 
Papacy will have interest and usefulness. The periods 
which lie between the various Pontificates which I select 
will be compressed into a brief account of their essential 
characters and more prominent representatives, so that 
the work will form a continuous study of the Papacy. 

In the selection of a score of Popes out of more than 
two hundred and fifty there is room for difference of 
judgment. The principle on which I have proceeded is 
plain from the general aim I have indicated. The 
story of the Papacy may fitly be divided into two parts: 
a period of making and a period of unmaking. Taking 
the terms somewhat liberally, one may say that the 

Preface vii 

first period reaches from the second to the fourteenth 
century, and that the subsequent centuries have wit- 
nessed an increasing loss of authority, especially in the 
catastrophic movements (from the Papal point of view) 
of the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. A selec- 
tion of significant Popes must, therefore, include the 
great makers of the Papacy, the men whose vice or 
incompetence brought destructive criticism upon it, 
and the men who have, with varying fortune, sought to 
defend it against the inroads of that criticism during the 
last fotir centuries. One must make a selection neither 
of good Popes nor bad Popes, but of the Popes who, in 
either direction, chiefly influenced the fortunes of the 
institution ; and, in order that no important phase may 
be omitted, a few men of no very pronounced personality 
must be included. 

Regarded from this point of view, the history of the 
Papacy may be compressed within limits which rather 
accentuate than obscure its interest, and, at the same 
time, a very ample account may be given of some of its 
more instructive phases. The first phase, before the 
Bishop of Rome became a Pope, in the distinctive sense 
of the word, is best illustrated by taking the bishopric 
of Callistus at the beginning of the third century. The 
Roman bishopric was then one of several "apostolic 
Sees, " rarely claiming authority over other bishoprics, 
and still more rarely finding such a claim acknowledged : 
thrown somewhat into the shade by the vastly greater 
strength of the Eastern churches, yet having an im- 
mense and as yet undeveloped resource in the tradition, 
which was now generally accepted, that it had been 
founded by the two princes of the apostles. There 
was, however, in three hundred years, no Roman bishop 
sufficiently endowed to develop this resource, and the 

viii Preface 

fourth century still found the Roman See so little 
elevated that its African neighbours disdainfully re- 
jected its claim of authority. Then the far-reaching 
change which followed the conversion of Constantine 
bestowed on it a material splendour and a secular 
authority which gave it a distinctive place in Christen- 
dom, and a study of the life of Bishop Damasus shows 
us the extension of its prestige and the exploitation of 
its tradition; while the founding of a rival imperial 
city in the East and the obliteration of all other apostolic 
Sees withdrew half of Christendom from Roman in- 
fluence before its ecumenic claim was fully developed. 

The fall of the western Roman Empire enfeebles the 
once powerful and independent provincial bishops and 
gives a more spiritual outlook to the successors of Peter 
who sit among the ruins of Rome. The life of Leo the 
Great illustrates this concentration on religious power 
amidst the autumnal decay of the more material power 
and of the wealth which had inflated and secularized 
some of his predecessors. The life of Gregory the Great 
marks the culmination of this development. The 
material world seems to be nearing dissolution and the 
old Roman spirit of organization, which is strong in 
Gregory I., is directed to the creation of a moral and 
religious dictatorship. There are still flickers of 
independence in remote bishoprics, and the East is 
irrecoverably removed, but the disordered state of 
Christendom cries for a master. Europe is young again, 
with a vicious impulsive youth, and the rod of Rome 
falls healthily on its shoulders ; and the paralysis of civic 
government and land-tenure in Italy inevitably casts 
secular functions and large possessions upon the one 
effective power that survives. An elementary royalty 
begins to attach to the Papacy : the function of tdtimate 

Preface ix 

tribunal in that violent world is imposed on it almost 
by public needs: and, though Gregory is personally dis- 
dainful of culture, the Church, and the monastic re- 
fuges it consecrates, preserve for a wiser age to come 
some proportion of the wisdom of the dead age. 

With Hadrian I. a new phase opens. The possession 
and administration of "patrimonies," or bequeathed 
estates, give place to the definite political control of 
whole provinces, under the protection of a powerful and 
conveniently remote King of the Pranks. In the ninth 
century, Nicholas I. consolidates and extends the new 
power, both as temporal and spiritual rulen The 
vice and violence of Europe still justify or promote the 
growth of a great spiritual autocracy, and the illiteracy 
of Europe — for culture has touched its lowest depth — 
permits the imposition on it (in the "False Decretals," 
etc.) of an impressive and fictitious version of the bases 
of Papal claims. Then Rome, which has hitherto 
had singularly few unworthy men in the chair of Peter, 
becomes gradually degraded to the level of its age, and 
the Papacy passes into the darkness of the Age of Iron : 
which is fitly illustrated by the Pontificate of John X. 
Gregory VII. shows its restoration to spiritual ideals and 
the union of monastic severity with the Papal tradition ; 
and this steady creation of a machinery for dominating 
the vice and violence of Europe is perfected in the ex- 
traordinary work of Innocent III., who would, for its 
moral correction, make Europe the United States of the 
Church and treat its greatest monarchs as satraps of 
the Papacy. 

After Innocent, the Papacy degenerates. A renewed 
school-life, the influence of the Moors, the evolution of 
civic life and prosperity, and the rise of powerful king- 
doms stimulate the intelligence of Europe, while the 

X Preface 

political connexions in which the temporal power en- 
tangles the Papacy lead to a degeneration which can- 
not escape the more alert mind of the laity. During 
a long exile at Avignon the Papal court leams soft ways 
and corrupt devices — ^illustrated by the life of John 
XXII. — and the Great Schism which follows the return 
to Rome causes a moral paralysis which permits the 
Pontificate of an unscrupulous adventurer like John 
XXIII, The prosperous sensuality of the new Europe 
infects an immense proportion of the clergy: war, 
luxury, and display entail a vast expenditure, and the 
more thoughtful clergy and laity deplore the increasing 
sale by the Popes of sacred offices and spiritual privileges. 
The body of lay scholars and lawyers grows larger and 
. more critical, while the Papal Court sinks lower and 
lower. The Papacy is fiercely criticized throughout 
Europe, and the resentment of its moral complexion 
leads to a discussion of the bases of its power. The 
earlier forgeries are discovered and the true story of its 
htunan growth is dimly apprehended. The successive 
Pontificates of Alexander VI., Julius II., and Leo X. ex- 
hibit this dramatic development : a flat defiance by the 
Papal Court of the increasing moral sentiment and 
critical intelligence of Europe. Men are still so domi- 
nated by religious tradition that, apart from an occa- 
sional heresy, they generally think only of "reform" 
and reforming councils. When Luther strikes a deeper 
note of rebellion, the echo is portentous, and neither 
reform, nor violence, nor persuasion succeeds in avert- 
ing the disruption of Christendom. In Paul III., we have 
the last representative of the Papacy of the Renaissance 
wavering between the grim menace of Germany and the 
unpleasantness of reform. In Sixtus V. and Benedict 
XIV. we study two of the great efforts of the new Papacy 

Preface xi 

to preserve the remaining half of its territory. In Pius 
VII., Pius IX., and Leo XIII. we see the PapacjMneet- 
ing the successive waves of the modem revolution. 

In composing this sketch of Papal history, or, rather, 
study of its critical phases, I have gratefully used the 
larger modem histories to which I have referred. Dr. 
Ludwig Pastor's History of the Popes from the Close of 
the Middle Ages'" is, for the period it covers (1300-1550), 
the most valuable of all Papal histories. The Catholic 
author is not less courageous than scholarly, even if we 
must recognize some inevitable bias of affection, and he 
has enriched our knowledge by a most judicious and 
candid use of unpublished documents in the Secret 
Archives of the Vatican. Dr. H. K. Mann's Lives of 
the Popes in the Middle Ages,* which covers the ground 
from Gregory I. to Innocent III., is based upon an ample 
knowledge of the original authorities, but is much less 
candid and reliable, and seems to be intended only for 
controversial purposes. Dr. Creighton's learned and 
judicious History of the Papacy from the Great Schism 
to the Sack of Rome^ must be corrected at times by the 
documents in Pastor. Father H. Grisar's incomplete 
History of Rome and the Popes in the Middle Ages^ is a 
learned and moderate partisan study of the Papacy in 
the first four centuries. The older works of Dr. J. 
Langer,* Dean Milman,* Gregorovius, ^ and Ranke are by 
no means superfluous to the student, though more 

' English timiis., 1891, etc. 

* Ten vds., 1903-1914. 

s Six vols., 2d ed., 1897. 

4 English trans., 191 1, etc. 

s Geschichie der romischen Kirche, 1881, etc 

* History of Latin Christianity, 

' The City of Rome in the Middle Ages, English trans., 1900, etc. 

xii Preface 

recent research or judgment often corrects them. Less 
extensive works will be noted in the course of each 
chapter, and I owe much to industrious older authorities 
like Baronius, Tillemont, Raynaldus, Mansi, etc. I 
have, however, had the original authorities before me 
throughout. The earlier chapters are, indeed, based 
almost entirely on the Latin or Greek sources, and, in 
the later chapters, at every point which seemed to 
inspire differences of judgment I have carefully weighed 
the original texts. For the later mediaeval period, how- 
ever, Creighton, Pastor, and Gregorovius have so gen- 
erously strengthened their works with quotations and 
references that, except at a few points, I may direct 
the reader to their more comprehensive studies. The 
narrow limits which are imposed by the particular pur- 
pose of this work forbid either the constant quoting of 
passages or the design of enlarging on some of the re- 
markable scenes to which it at times refers. The 
severe condensation, after the first few chapters, has 
entailed a labour only second to that of research, and I 
can only trust that the abundance of fact will afford 
some compensation for the lack of elegance. Happily 
the earlier controversial method of writing Papal his- 
tory has so far jdelded to candid research that the points 
in dispute — ^as far as fact is concerned — ^are compar- 
atively few. Where they occur — ^where grave and 
accepted historians of any school dissent — ^the evidence 
is more liberally put before the reader. 

Christmas, 191 5. 



I. — St. Callistus and the Early Struggle 

II. — St. Damasus and the Triumph 

III. — Leo the Great, the Last Pope of 
Imperial RoiiE .... 

IV. — Gregory the Great, the First Medleval 

V. — Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 
VI. — Nicholas I. and thePalse Decretals 


IX. — Innocent III.: The Papal Zenith 
X. — ^JoHN XXII. : The Court at Avignon 


XII. — ^Alexander VI. : The Borgia-Pope 
XIII. — ^JuuusIL: The Fighting Pope . 
XIV. — Leo X. and the Dance of Death . 












XV. — Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 310 



xiv Contents 



XVII. — Benedict XIV. : The Scholar-Pope . 351 

XVIII. — Pius VII. and the Revolution . 368 

XIX.— Pius IX 391 

XX.— Leo XIII. 414 

List of the Popes ...... 443 

Index 451 

Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Crises in the History of 

The Papacy 



AT the close of the second century after the birth of 
Christ the Christian community at Rome still 
saw no human prospect of that spiritual mastery of the 
worid which they trusted some day to attain. They 
lived, for the most part, in the Transtiberina, the last 
and least reputable section of the great city, beyond the 
shelter of its walls. In that squalid and crowded dis- 
trict between the Janiculus and the Tiber dwelt the 
fishers and tanners and other poor workers; and the 
Jews, and others who shunned the light, found refuge 
among their lowly tenements. Near that early ghetto, 
from which they had issued, most of the Christians 
lingered. Still they were a small community, and still 
the might of Rome bade them crouch trembling at the 
gates, lost among the tombs and gardens of the Vatican 
or the dense poverty at the foot of the Janiculus. Across 
the river they would see, above the fringe of wharves 
and warehouses, the spreading line of the Roman people's 
palaces, from the Theatre of Pompey to the Great 

2 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Circus: perhaps they would hear the roar of the lions 
which might at any time taste Christian flesh. Beyond 
these was the seething popular quarter of the Velabrum, 
sending up to heaven at night a confused murmur and 
a blaze of light at which the Christians would cross 
themselves; and on either side of the Velabrum, the 
stem guardians of its superstition, were the hills which 
bore the gold-roofed temple of Jupiter and the marble 
city of the Caesars. More than one hundred and fifty 
years had passed since the death of Christ, yet his 
followers waited without the gates, little heeded by the 
million citizens of Rome. 

The old gods were dying, it is true. In many a cool 
atrium there must have been some such discussion about 
the successor of Jupiter as has been finely imagined by 
Anatole France; but assuredly not the weirdest of the 
Syrian visionaries who abotmded would have said that, 
in a few centuries, those neglected fields beside the 
Neronian Circus at the foot of the Vatican would be- 
come the centre of the world, and that men and women 
would come from the farthest limits of the Empire to 
kiss the bones of those obscure Christians. Men 
talked of the progress of the cult of Mithra, which 
spread even to distant Eboractun, or the success of the 
priests of Isis or of Cybele, but few thought about the 
priests of Christ. Earlier in the century, Pliny had 
written to court to say that he had found, spreading 
over his province, a sect named the Christians, whose 
beliefs seemed to him "an immoderate superstition"; 
though they had, he said, under pressure, abandoned 
their God in crowds; and he had little doubt that he 
would extinguish the sect. Few even of the Christians 
can have imagined that within two centuries their 
cross would be raised above the proudest montunents of 

St Callistus and the Early Struggle 3 

Rome, and that the eagles of Jove and the rams of Mithra ' 
would lie in the dust. 

Toward the end of the second century the Roman 
Christians can hardly have numbered twenty thousand. '^ 
Dr. DoUinger estimates their number at fifty thousand, 
but the letter of Bishop Cornelius, on which he relies, 
belongs to a later date and is not accurately quoted by 
him.' The Bishop says that, in his time, the Roman 
Church had forty-four priests, fourteen deacons and 
subdeacons, and ninety-four clerics in minor orders. 
The crowd of acolytes and exorcists must not be regarded 
in a modem sense ; most of them would never be priests. 
At that time, there was not a single public chapel in 
Rome and it would be an anachronism to regard each 
of the thirty or forty priests of Rome as a rector in 
charge of more than a thousand souls. The Christians 
gathered stealthily in the houses of their better-en- 
dowed brethren to receive the sacred elements from poor 
glass vessels, and TertuUian blushes to learn that they 
are found among the panders and gamblers who have 
to bribe the officials to overlook their illegal ways.* 
The fact that they supported fifteen hundred poor, sick, 
and widows need not surprise us when we remember 
what an age of parasitism it was. At least a fourth 
of the citizens of Rome lived on free rations and had 
free medical service. There were, in fine, thirty years 
of development between the time of Cornelius and the 
time of Callistus. ^ 

Yet, it was nearly a century and a half, tradition said, 

' It is preserved in Eusebius, EccUsiastical History, vi., 43. 

' De Fuga a Perseculione, xiii. 

* The number of interments in the Catacombs cannot very well be 
regarded as evidence. Archaeologists differ by millions in estimating 
the number, and the populous Church after Constantine still buried in 
the Catacombs, at least until the Pontificate of Damasus. 

4 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

since Peter and Paul had baptized crowds on the banks 
of the Tiber. One cannot today add anything to the 
discussion of that tradition and I will very briefly state 
the evidence. The First Epistle of Peter — which is not 
undisputed — says^: "The Church that is in Babylon 
saluteth you," and Babylon is very plausibly under- 
stood to mean Rome. Next, about the year 96, 
Clement of Rome, writing to the Corinthians, speaks 
vaguely of a ''martyrdom " of Peter and Paul, and seems 
to imply that it took place at Rome. * About the mid- 
dle of the following century, we find it believed in 
remote parts of the Church — ^by Papias in Hierapolis 
and Dionysius at Corinth — that Peter had preached the 
Gospel at Rome.^ Ignatius of Antioch also seems to 
imply that Peter and Paul foimded the Roman com- 
munity.^ Irenaeus and TertuUian and later writers 
know even more about it — the later the writer, the 
more he knows — but the historian must hesitate to use 
their works. There is a respectable early tradition that 
Peter and Paul preached the Gospel at Rome and suffered 
there some kind of martyrdom, during or after the 
Neronian persecution. Peter is not called "bishop" 
of Rome by any writer earlier than the third century, 
and the belief that he ruled the Roman Church for 
twenty-five years seems to be merely the outcome of 
some fanciful calculations of Anti-Pope Hippolytus. 

Of the earlier bishops, Linus and Anacletus . (or 
Anencletus), we know only the names.* Then a faint 

« v., 13. • EinsOe, v. 

< See Eusebius, iL, 15, and iii., 40, for the words of Papias, and ii., 
25, for the testimony of Dionysius. 

4 Letter to Romans, iv. 

s Even the names and order are given differently in early writers. I 
follow, as is now usual, the order given by Epiphanius (xxvii., 6) and 

St Callistus and the Early Struggle 5 

Kght is thrown on the metropolitan Church by the letter 
of Clement, its third Bishop. We find an ordered com- 
munity, with bishop, priests, and deacons ; perhaps we 
conceive it more accurately if we say, with overseer, 
elders, and servants. Then the mists thicken again 
and a line of undistinguished names is all that we can 
discern tmtil the consecration of Bishop Victor in the 
year 189. 

One would like to know more about Bishop Victor. 
He seems to have been the first Pope, in the familiar 
sense of the word. '*Pope" was, we know, a common 
title of bishops until the sixth century, but Victor is one 
of the makers of a distinctive Papacy. We shall, 
presently, find TertuUian speaking, with his heaviest 
irony, of "the bishop of bishops, the supreme pontiflf," 
and, although he is probably referring to Callistus, he 
is echoing the words of some other bishop. History 
points to Victor, who peremptorily cut off the Eastern 
churches from communion because they would nol 
celebrate Easter when he did. They were not much 
concerned, but Victor's premature assertion of leader- 
ship marks the beginning of the Papacy. X 

The Roman Church was wealthier than those of the 
East, or had a few wealthy members in the city. It 
sent stuns of money to more needy communities and 
received flattering requests for advice. It was, how- 
ever, singularly lacking in intellectual distinction, and it 
produced no scholar to refute the subtle Gnostics and 
fiery Montanists who came to it. The waves of heresy 
which raged over the East broke harmlessly on the 
Italian shore of Christendom. One must not imagine 
that it was isolated from the East by difference of tongue. 
Until the end of the third century, it was wholly Greek : 
more isolated from Rome than from Corinth. Nor is 

6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

it less inaccurate to say that the Latins were more in- 
terested in administration than in speculation. There 
is little trace of organization until the days of Callistus. 
One is more disposed to conceive the Roman Church 
shivering in poverty amid the wealth and culture of the 
metropolis. The disdainful language of the intellec- 
tuals and the wonderful success of Stoicism in the 
second century excluded it from the educated world; 
while its secrecy, its stem abstinence from games and 
festivals, its scorn of the gods, and the shadow of 
deadly illegality which brooded over it, made it less 
successful in appealing to the people than the other 
Eastern religions. 

If, however, the Roman See made little impression in 
Rome, it made some progress in the Church. As the 
fragments of Papias and Dionysius show, Christians 
were saying, far away in the East, that it had been 
founded by Peter; and the Gospels plainly made Peter 
the chief of the apostles. The Roman See did not yet 
speak of having inherited the primacy of Peter, and it 
had very little share in the prestige of Rome. It must 
rise higher in the eyes of men, and at the end of the 
second century it was rising. Marda, the robust 
ex-slave who shared the brutal pleasures of Commodus 
and was mistress of his harem of three htmdred con- 
cubines, had a grateful recollection of earlier Christian 
kindness, and she secured peace and favour for the 
Church. Here it is that, for the first time, a clear light 
falls upon the Christian community at Rome and upon 
its bishops. 

In the year 217 (or 218), Bishop Callistus succeeded 
Bishop Zephyrin, who had followed Victor. From the 
fourth century he has been counted one of the greatest j 
of the early Popes. Two of the historic cemeteries bore 




St Callistus and the Early Struggle 7 

his name, and there were a Church of St. Callistus (or 
Calixtus, as the Latins sometimes misspell it) and a 
Square of St. Callistus in the Trastevere district. 
Martyrologies honoured him as a witness to the faith, 
and (probably from the seventh century) the Acta of 
his martyrdom, including a most impressive accotmt of 
his virtues and miracles, might be consulted in the 
archives of Sta. Maria in Trastevere. From these 
materials, Moretti composed an eloquent biography of 
the saint, and even the BoUandists, more discreetly, 
and with disturbing hints that Christian scholars were 
saying naughty things about the Acta S. CaUisti, set 
their learned seal upon his diploma of sanctity and 

Contemporary with Callistus, the saint and martyr, 
was Hippoljrtus, the scholar and saint and martyr. 
They were the two shining jewels of the Roman Church. 
The many works of Hippoljrtus had strangely disap- 
peared, and tradition was not even sure of which town 
he had been Bishop; but there was evidence enough to 
connect him with the Roman Church and to justify 
the claim that he was the Origen of the West. When, 
in 1 55 If a broken marble statue of Hippolytus was 
discovered at Rome, it was devoutly restored and set up 
in the Lateran Musetun. And just three hundred 
years afterwards, in 1851, there was given to the world 
a lost work of the saintly scholar, from which it is plain 
that he was the first Anti-Pope, and that the Pope whom 
he opposed and reviled was Callistus. The first book 
of this work, the Refutation of all Heresies (sometimes 
called the Philosophoumena) , had long been known; 
the manuscript copy of Books IV. to X. was fotmd in a 
monastery on Mount Athos in 1842. Now that the 
true character of Hippolytus is known, some doubt has 

8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

been cast upon his scholarship, but it was considerable for 
his age and environment. He was one of the very few 
scholars of the Roman Church during several centuries, 
and one chapter of his work throws an interesting light 
on the person of Callistus and on a remarkable phase of 
the development of the Papacy. 

The controversy about the authorship of the book 
and about the charges against CaUistus has brought to 
bear upon that period all the available Ught; and the 
modem student will probably find the truth somewhere 
between the extremes held by the contending historians 
of the nineteenth century.^ De Rossi himself, indeed, 
while pretending to support, entirely discredits the 
arguments with which Dollinger, in his years of ortho- 
doxy, sought to defend the impeccability of the Popes 
and to prove the moral obUquity of all who opposed 
them. The Italian archaeologist, it is true, imputes to 
Hippoljrtus a malice which goes ill with his reputation for 
sanctity, but perhaps we shall be able to extricate our- 
selves from this painful dilemma without grave detri- 
ment to the character of either saint. 

CaUistus was, in the days of Commodus, a slave of 
the Christian Carpophoms, according to the Liber 
Pontificalis.^ He was the son of a certain Domitius 

* Bunsen's four- volume Hippolytus and his Age (1852) was sharply 
attacked by D6llinger {Hippolytus and Callistus, English translation, i ^ 76) 
and more judiciously handled by G. B. de Rossi in his Bulletins di 
Archeologia Cristtana (1866, pp. 1-33). Milman (History of Latin 
Christianity f vol. i.) and Ch. Wordsworth (St, Hippolytus and the Church 
of Rome, 1853) supported Bunsen. The work itself is translated in 
The Anie-Nicene Library, vol. vi. 

* This anonymous catalogue of the Popes, which I must often quote, 
is a quaint mixture dl^l^barate archives and inaccurate rumours. The 
first part seems to have been written in the sijcth century, and it was 
continued as a semi-official record. See the Introduction to Duchesne's 

St Callistus and the Early Struggle 9 

who lived in the Transtiberina. The master entrusted 
the slave with money to open a bank, and the faithful 
put their savings into it, but it became known after a 
time that CaUistus had — to quote the text literally — 
"brought all the money to naught and was in diffi- 
culties." He fled to the Port of Rome, whence, after 
leaping into the sea in despair, he was brought back to 
the house of Carpophorus and put in the pistrinum, the 
domestic mill in which slaves expiated their crimes. 
The faithful, prompted by Callistus, begged his release 
on the ground that he had money on loan and could 
repay. He had no money, however, and he could think 
of nothing better than to make a disturbance in the 
synagogue on the Sabbath, for which the Jews took him 
before the Prefect Fusdanus^ and described him as a 
Christian. He was scourged and was sent to the silver 
or iron mines of Sardinia — the Siberia of the Empire — 
from which few returned. But, shortly afterwards, 
Marcia obtained the release of the Christians, and 
although Bishop Victor had not included the name of 
Callistus in the list, Callistus persuaded the etmuch to 
insert it. Victor, however, reflecting on the hostility 
of his victims, sent him to live, on a pension provided 
by the Church, at Antium. 

This narrative has been subjected to the most 
meticulous criticism, as if it were something novel or 
important to accuse a Pope of having committed certain 
indiscretions in his youth. It suffices to say that, while 
Dollinger is, in the end, reduced to claiming that Hip- 
polytus was probably not in Rome at the time, the more 
learned De Rossi is so impressed by the minuteness and 
(as far as it can be checked) the accuracy of the account 

« Fuscianus was Prefect between the years i86 and 189, so that we 
have an approxioiatc date of these events. 

lo Crises in the History of the Papacy 

that he believes Hippoljrtus to have been a deacon of the 
Church at the time and so to have had official knowledge 
of the facts. The single point of any importance is open 
to a humane interpretation. Did or did not Callistus 
embezzle the money? If he did, how came he to be 
elected bishop? If he did not, how comes his sainted 
rival to call him, as he does, a fraud and impostor? 
We may remember that financial troubles of this kind 
are peculiarly open to opposite interpretations. Hip- 
polytus, Victor, and Carpophorus, it seems, took the less 
charitable view; but it would not be unnatural for 
others to persuade themselves, or be persuaded by 
Callistus, that he was merely the victim of circum- 

Victor died in 198 and was succeeded by Zephyrin, 
"an ignorant and illiterate man," says Hippolytus. 
Callistus, who had ceased to be a slave when he was 
sentenced to penal servitude, was recalled to Rome and, 
apparently, made first deacon (now called archdeacon) 
of the Church. He was put in charge of a cemetery 
in the Appian Way which the community had just 
secured, and this cemetery bears his name to this day. 
Hippolytus, who was indignant, charges Callistus with 
ambition, and says that Zephyrin was avaricious and 
open to bribes; which we may humanely construe to 
mean that the able administration of Callistus enabled 
the Bishop to live in some comfort. Nor need we de- 
spair of finding a genial interpretation of his further 
charge, that the deacon induced Zephyrin to meddle 
with questions of dogma, and then, behind the Bishop's 
back, diplomatically S5mipathized with both the contend- 
ing parties. The truth is that the Latins were sorely 
puzzled by the subtleties with which the Greeks were 
slowly and fiercely shaping the dogma that the Father 

St. Callistus and the Early Struggle ii 

and Son were one nature, yet two persons, and both 
Zephyrin and Callistus stumbled. 

Callistus is further described as assisting Zephyrin in 
the "coercion," or, as others translate, the "organiza- 
tion " of the clergy, and this point is of greater interest. 
As far as one can construe the barbarous Latin of the 
Liber Pontificalis, Zephyrin decreed that the priests 
were not to consecrate the communion for the people. 
The sacred elements were to be brought to them, on 
glass patens, from the altar at which the bishop said 
mass. Probably this is the "coercion" to which Hip- 
polytus refers, as the aim was, plainly, to emphasize the 
subordination of the clergy. I would further venture to 
suggest, against the learned Father Grisar, that this was 
also the occasion when the sphere of the Roman bishop 
was divided into twenty-five tittUi (or parishes). The 
Liber Pontificalis describes how Urban I., the successor 
of Callistus, substituted silver for glass vessels at the 
altar, and expressly speaks of "twenty-five patens." 

We must conclude that Callistus was able as well as 
persuasive, and we are not surprised to learn that, when 
Zephyrin died in 2 1 7 (or, according to another account, 
218) he was chosen Bishop. It was customary, until 
long afterwards, to choose the bishop from the body of 
deacons, but Hippolytus and his friends were indignant 
at the election of the ex-slave, and a schism occurred. 
Hippolytus had the support of the minority of pre- 
cisians and correct believers : Callistus was the favourite 
of the majority. Epithets of which the modem mind 
can hardly appreciate the gravity were hurled from 
camp to camp. " Patripassian, " thundered Hippo- 
lytus: "Ditheist" retorted Callistus. It is quite 
clear that the scholar set up a rival See at Rome. He 
says that Callistus, when he was elected, "thought" 

12 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

that he had attained his ambition, and this must mean 
that he claimed himself to be the true Bishop of Rome. 
Later tradition, concealing the ugly schism, left the 
bishopric of Hippolytus in the air, or placed it at the 
Port of Rome, twenty miles away. But this picture of 
daily combats implies that both bishops were in Rome, 
and the little flock was rent and agitated by the first 
Papal schism. 

The dogmatic issue between the rivals cannot profit- 
ably be discussed here. The Church was then in an 
early phase of the great Trinitarian controversy, and, 
under Victor and Zephyrin, the Roman clergy had 
favoured the simpler, or unitarian, view. Sabellius, 
who has given his name to one form of unitarianism, 
was in Rome and was supported by the deacon Callistus : 
indeed, his rival says that it was Callistus who seduced 
Sabellius. However that may be, Callistus shrewdly 
perceived he could not meet his learned opponent on 
that ground. He disowned Sabellius, and soon lost 
himself in a maze of technical theology into which I 
will not venture to follow him. To theologians I leave 
also the discussion of the charge that Callistus favoured 
the rebaptizing of converted heretics. 

It is the charges of a practical or disciplinary nature 
which best illustrate the character of Callistus and make 
his Pontificate a milestone in the history of the Papacy. 
When we have made every possible allowance for 
exaggeration, they show that Callistus infused a re- 
markable spirit of liberalism into the Christian disci- 
pline and made smooth for the tender feet of the Romans 
the rough ways of his Church. 

The first charge is that Callistus admitted grave 
sinners to communion, if they did penance. The an- 
cient discipline is well known. Those who committed 

St Callistus and the Early Struggle 13 

one "mortal" sin after baptism could never again be 
admitted to communion. They were the pariahs of 
the commtmity , bearing in the eyes of all the ineffaceable 
brand of their sin. There was as yet no central power 
to define mortal sins, but sins of the flesh were, beyond 
doubt, in that category, and, as such were not uncom- 
mon at Rome, a rigorous insistence on the old discipline 
hampered the growth of the Church. Callistus, with 
princely liberality, abolished it. "I hear," says Ter- 
tuUian, "that an edict has gone forth. The supreme 
Pontiff, that is to say, the Bishop of Bishops, annotmces: 
I will absolve even those who are guilty of adultery and 
fornication, if they do penance. " * So the narrow gates 
were opened a little wider to the warm-blooded Romans, 
and the Church grew. 

But, while modem sentiment will genially applaud 
this act of the first liberal Pope, the fifth charge in the 
indictment, which I take up next, seems graver. The 
Greek text of Hippolytus is here partictdarly corrupt 
and ambiguous, but the translation given by the Rev. 
J. M. Macmahon in the Ante-Nicene Library is generally 
faithful : 

For even also he permitted females, if they were unwedded 
and burned with passion at an age at aU events unbecoming 
[more probably, at a seasonable age], or [and] if they were 
not disposed to overturn their dignity through a legal 
marriage, that they might have whomsoever they wotild 
choose as a bedfellow, whether a slave or free [freedman], 

' De Pudicilia, i. Ddllinger, on no apparent ground, and against all 
probability, refers this to Zephyrin, and some older writers think that 
the indignant Puritan is quoting an African bishop. We must agree 
with De Rossi that Tertullian has Callistus in mind, especially when we 
find Hippoljrtus saying that he was "the first" to do this. An earlier 
attempt of an Eastern bishop might easily have escaped Hippolytus. 

14 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

and that they, though not legally married, might consider 
such an one as a husband.' 

The Bishop goes on to describe in technical language, 
which need not be reproduced here, how the practice of 
abortion spread among Christian ladies as a result of 
this license. 

The apparent gravity of the charge has, however, 
so far disappeared since the days of DoUinger that we 
are now asked to admire the bold and exalted charity 
of Callistus. He is, of course, referring to the Roman 
law which forbade the widow or daughter of a senator, 
under pain of losing her dignity of clarissima, to marry 
a free-bom man of lower condition ; a slave or f reedman 
she could not validly marry. There cannot have been 
very many ladies of senatorial rank in the Church at 
that time, seeing that, seventy years after the conversion 
of Constantine, St. Augustine found ''nearly the whole 
of the nobility" still pagan.* There were, however, 
some, as the inscriptions in the Catacombs show, and 
their position was painful. They must either mate with 
a Christian slave or freedman, and be regarded by the 
law and their neighbours as living in concubinage: or 
marry a free-bom Christian of low degree and thus 
forfeit their rank: or devote their virginity or their 
widowhood to God. The Church was concerned that 
they should not marry pagan senators, who would scoflf 
at their superstitions and would dissipate their fortimes. 
Callistus told them that he would recognize as valid 
in conscience tuiions with slaves or freedmen which the 

* VoL vi., p. 346. This is a fair, if inelegant, rendering of the Greek 
text given by Duncker and Schneidewin in their edition of the Refutation^ 
and it corresponds with the Latin translation given by those editors and 
with De Rossi. Ddllinger is alone in his interpretation. 

' Confessions^ viii., 2. 

St. Callistus and the Early Struggle 15 

State did not countenance. The number of ladies to 
whom the license extended must have been small, 
and Hippolytus evidently exaggerates the occasional 
scandals which followed. The impartial historian, 
however, will hardly regard the action of Callistus 
as a humanitarian protest against caste-distinctions. 
Such distinctions were maintained by the Church 
for centuries afterwards in its legislation about the 
^^gy» a^d, on the other hand, the measure was 
profitable to the Church. In practice, indeed, these 
secret marriages would easily lead to disorder. A 
Christian lady would, if she were to keep her union 
secret, merely choose a "husband" among her slaves 
or freedmen, and would be tempted to use illicit means 
when her "marriage" threatened to be exposed too 
plainly to pagan eyes. 
x^The other charges against Callistus show a general 
policy of liberality. He decreed that a bishop who was 
convicted of mortal sin was not necessarily to be deposed : 
he permitted men who had been twice or thrice married 
to become deacons or priests: he directed that "men in 
orders " must not be disturbed if they married. Some 
writers think that, in the latter case, he was referring 
only to men in minor orders, but that would not have 
been a daring innovation. Hippolytus, in fact, makes 
his policy and his character clearer by telling us, indig- 
nantly, how Callistus searched the Scriptures for proof 
that the Church must be wide enough to embrace both 
saints and sinners. There had been clean and tmclean 
animals in the ark : Christ had said that the tares must 
grow up with the wheat: and so on. His reputation 
for liberality spread so far in the Church that, while 
Tertullian grumbled in Africa, a quaint Syrian charla- 
tan named Alcibiades was attracted from the East to 

1 6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Rome. He brought a mystic work, given to him by two 
angels of the imposing height of ninety-six miles each, 
and he proclaimed that his new form of baptism ab- 
solved even from certain gross sins which he very freely 
and suggestively described. 

The Church grew during these years of peace, of 
able organization, and of humanization. Callistus 
"made a basilica beyond the Tiber" — ^the Liber Pon- 
tificalis says — ^and there is an interesting passage in the 
Historia Augiista which seems to refer to this first 
Christian chapel at Rome. The biographer of Alex- 
ander Severus says (c. xliii.) that the Emperor wished 
to give the Christians the right to have public chapels, 
but his officials protested that "the temples would be 
deserted — all Rome would become Christian." This 
is obviously a piece of later Christian fiction. In a 
more plausible paragraph, however, Lampridius tells 
us that the Christians occupied a "public place," to 
which the innkeepers laid claim, and the Emperor 
decided that "it was better for God to be worshipped 
there in some form than for the innkeepers to have it. " 
It is probable enough that this inn is the taverna meri- 
toria (wine shop and restaurant) referred to by Dio 
Cassius^: among the portents which accompanied the 
struggles of Octavian a stream of oil had burst forth 
in this hostel in the Transtiberina. We know from 
Orosius^ that the Christians claimed the occurrence in 
later years as a presage of the coming of Christ. The 
age, if not the disputed ownership, of the place suggests 
a dilapidated, if not deserted, building; and if we may 
in one detail trust that interesting romance, the Acta 
S. Callisti, we have a picture of the Christians of the 
third century meeting at last, under their enterprising 

«XLVIII. •VI.. i8. 



St Callistus and the Early Struggle 17 

Bishop, in the upper or dining room of this humble old 
inn in the despised Transtiberina. This was the high- 
water mark of a century and a half of progress. 

Only one other act is authentically recorded of the ^ 

brief rule of Bishop Callistus: he directed his people to 
fast on three Sabbaths in the year. This may seem 
inconsistent with his genial policy, but we must re- 
member that rigorists abounded at Rome and demanded 
sterner ways. Callistus, apparently, merely sanctioned 
some slight traditional observance and thus virtually 
relieved the faithful of others. 

It may be fascinating to conjecture what so enterpris- 
ing a Pope would have done with the ecclesiastical 
system if he had lived long enough, but Callistus died, 
according to the best authorities, in the year 222, four 
or five years after his consecration. He did not die a 
martyr. In opening his account of the career of Callis- 
tus, the rival Bishop says: "This man suffered martyr- 
dom when Fuscianus was Prefect, and this was the sort 
of martyrdom he suffered. " It is inconceivable that 
Hippolytus should use such language in Rome after the 
death of Callistus if the Pope had really suffered for 
the faith. No Christian was executed at Rome under 
Alexander Severus. We must suppose that after his 
death, if not during his life, Callistus was applauded as a 
martyr because of his banishment to Sardinia, and 
probably this gave rise to the legend of his martyrdom, 
which first appears, as a bald statement, in the fourth 
century. The Acta S. CaUisti may be traced to about 
the seventh century, and may be a pious contribution 
to the rejoicing of the faithful at the transfer of his 
bones to Sta. Maria in Trastevere.* The recklessness 

■ Neither this church nor the Basilica S. Callisti can have been the 
original meeting-place, though the latter may have been founded on it. 


i8 Crises in the Hi.stor}" of the Papacy 

with which the writer describes the gentle and friendly 
Alexander Severus as a truculent enemy of the Chris- 
tians was noted even by mediaeval historians, and the 
narrative is now regarded as, in the words of DoUinger, 
"a piece of fiction from beginning to end. " Yet Father 
Grisar' describes Callistus as a martyr. 

Hippolytus maintained his little schism under Urban 
I. and Pontianus, while the orthodox community pros- 
pered in the sun of imperial favour. Then the grim 
Maximinus succeeded Alexander on the throne, and the 
clouds gather again over Christendom. We just discern 
Pope and Anti-Pope, Pontianus and Hippolytus, 
passing together to the deadly mines of Sardinia. 
Later legend generously reconcfled the rivals and gave 
to both of them the martyr's crown ; but the authority 
is late and worthless. In whatever manner he ended 
his career, Rome was too proud of its one scholar to 
darken his memory, and the names of Hippolytus and 
Callistus shone together in ecclesiastical literature 
until that fateful discovery among the dusty parchments 
of the monks of Mount Athos. 

s History of Rome and the Popes in the Early Middle Age^. i^, 313. 



IN the year 355, the Christians of the imperial city 
startled their neighbours by a series of violent and 
threatening demonstrations. Armed crowds of them 
filled the streets, and monks and sacred virgins hid 
themselves from the riot. An inquiring pagan would 
have learned that the Emperor Constantius, who had 
waded to supremacy through a stream of blood, was 
attempting to force on their Bishop and themselves the 
damnable heresy of Arius. A few weeks before, Con- 
stantius had sent his eunuch with rich presents to 
Liberius, suavely asking him to condemn a certain fiery 
Athanasius who resisted the heresy. Liberius had 
courageously refused, and, when the eunuch had cun- 
ningly left the gifts beside the tomb of St. Peter, the 
Bishop had had them cast out of the church. When 
the exasperated eunuch had returned to the Emperor 
at Milan, the Christian community had prepared for 
drastic action, and it was presently known that the 
civic officials at Rome had received orders to seize the 
Bishop and send him to Milan. The Christians threat- 
ened resistance, and for a few days the city was en- 
livened by their turbulence. At last, Liberius was 
dragged from his house at night and taken to Milan; 
and, since he bravely resisted the Emperor to his face, 
he was sent on to remote and inhospitable Thrace. 


20 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Then the clergy, and as many of the faithful as could 
enter, gathered in their handsome new basilica on the 
site of the Laterani Palace and swore a great oath that 
they would know no other bishop as long as Liberius 
lived. One, at least, of the clergy set out — no doubt 
amidst the cheers of the people — to accompany his 
Bishop into exile; this was the deacon Damasus, who 
was destined to be the next Pope of prominence in 
the Roman calendar. 

The scene reminds us forcibly of the dramatic trans- 
formation which had taken place since, a century before, 
Pope and Anti-Pope had been sent in chains to the 
mines. For fifty years after that date the Liber Pon- 
tificalis is a necrology, a chronicle of gloomy life in the 
Catacombs. Eleven Popes out of the thirteen who 
followed Urban I. are — most of them wrongly — de- 
scribed as martyrs, and the record of their actions 
shrinks to a few lines. At last, with Bishop Eusebius, 
the chronicle brightens and lengthens ; and then, under 
the name of Silvester, it swells to thirty pages and 
glows with tokens of imperial generosity. The darkest 
hour of the Church has suddenly changed into a dazzling 

The historical revolution reflected in this early 
chronicle of the Popes is well known. For eighty years 
after the death of Callistus, the hope of the faithful was 
painfully strained. The Decian persecution (249-251) 
sent some to the heroic death of the martyr, many to the 
corrupt ojfficials who sold false certificates of apostasy, 
and very many back to the pagan temples. Then 
another schism and another Anti-Pope appeared; and 
the alliance with St. Cyprian and the African bishops, 
which had at first promised aid against the schismatics, 
ended in a contemptuous repudiation by the African 

St Damasus and the Triumph 21 

bishops of Rome's claim to jurisdiction. The Valerian 
persecution dissolved the feud in blood, and, then, forty 
years of peace enabled the Roman Christians to recover 
and to extend their domain. Two or three small 
basiliccB were erected or adapted. But, in the year 303, 
the new hope was chilled by the dreaded smnmons of the 
persecutor, and, for the last time, stem-set men and 
gentle maidens set out to face the headsman. Rome 
did not suffer much in the next seven years of persecu- 
tion, but one can imagine the feelings of the faithful 
when they saw century thus succeed century without 
bringing any larger hope even of a free place in the sun. 
And then, in rapid succession, came the triumph of 
Constantine, the issue of their charter of liberty (the 
Edict of Milan, 313), the imperial profession of Chris- 
tianity, the grant to the Christian clergy of the privileges 
of Roman priests, and the building of large basiliccB 
and scattering of gold and silver over their marble 
altars. Even the transfer of the court to Constanti- 
nople hardly dimmed the new hope. It remained ''a 
new form of ambition to desert the altars, '* the pagans 
murmured, and no one dare thwart the zeal of the clergy. 
So, by the year 355, when deacon Damasus makes an 
inglorious entrance into history, Rome had a large 
Christian community and at least half a dozen churches. 
But Christendom was now overcast by the triumph of 
Arianism and an Arian Emperor, and the struggle put 
an insupportable strain on the character of the faithful. 
At first, the prospect at Rome was brave and inspiring. 
They would all be true to their martyr-bishop ; with that 
thrilling cry in his ears the deacon set out for Thrace. 
In a very short time, he was back in Rome, having 
changed his mind: "fired with ambition," his critics 
said. And, in another short time, the chief deacon Felix, 

22 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

who also had taken the oath, listened to the Arian 
court and became Bishop of Rome; and Damasus and 
most of the clergy transferred their loyalty to him. 
Then, in two or three years, Liberius grew tired of 
Thrace, and signed some sort of heretical formula, and 
came back to Rome; and the bloody struggle of Pope 
and Anti-Pope led to a train of sorrows which darken 
the life of St. Damasus. 

He had been bom, probably at Rome, though his 
father is said to have been a Spaniard, about the year 
304. ' The father had been a priest in the service of the 
little basilica of St. Lawrence in the city — I am not 
impressed by Marucchi's contention that he was a 
bishop — ^and had brought up Damasus in the same 
service. The mother Laiu^ntia was pious: the sister 
Irene consecrated her virginity to God. Damasus 
became, and remained, a deacon, and was at least in his 
fiftieth year when he tianed his back upon the heroic 
road to Thrace. He was popular in the new Christian 
Rome, which Jerome describes so darkly; envious folk 
called him "the tickler of matrons' ears," and even 
worse. But we lose sight of him again for ten years 
after his first appearance. * 

' His latest biographer, the learned Father Marucchi, says 305, 
but St. Jerome does not say that he was "eighty years old" at death 
(in 384); he says, "nearly eighty." See Father Marucchi's II Papa 
Damaso (1907) and Christian Epigraphy (English trans. 1912), M. 
Rade's Damasus, Bischof van Ram (1882) is a little more critical. 

' The less flattering statements about Damasus are generally taken 
from a certain Libellus precum, or petition, which was presented to the 
Emperors by two hostile, though esteemed and orthodox, priests about 
the year 384. The attack on Damasus is, however, in a preface to the 
petition, which was probably not put before the Emperors. We must 
make allowance for bitter hostility, but we shall find some of their 
strangest statements confirmed by the highest authorities. The 
Libellus is reproduced in Migne's Pairalagia Latina, vol. iii. 

St Damasus and the Triumph 23 

The events of those ten years are, however, important 
for the understanding of Damasus and his Church, and 
must be briefly reviewed. That the clergy had, in the 
presence of the people, sworn to be true to Liberius, and 
that the majority of them broke their oath, is confirmed 
by St. Jerome in his Chronicle. Jerome, a decisive au- 
thority, tells also of the fall of Liberius, and this is also 
recorded by Athanasius, who writes the whole story. 
When Felix consented to be made bishop, the people 
were so infuriated that he had to be consecrated by the 
Emperor's Arian bishops in the palace: a group of 
etmuchs nominally representing the people, who raged 
without. Most of the clergy accepted Felix, but a 
minority, with the mass of the people, refused to do so, 
and, for two years, he gave his blessing to very thin 
congregations, or to empty benches. Then the Empe- 
ror came to Rome, and an imposing deputation of noble 
Christian ladies prevailed on him to recall Liberius. 
The Great Circus provided a new sensation for its 
400,000 idlers when an imperial messenger announced 
that henceforward Liberius and Felix would rule their 
respective flocks side by side in Rome. "Two circus- 
factions, so two bishops, " the pagan majority ironically 
replied: but the Christian laity ominously thundered, 
One God, one Christ, one Bishop. " So when Liberius, 
overcome by the weariness of exile and embracing the 
heretical perversity" (says St. Jerome in his Chronicle), 
returned to Rome, he was received "as a conqueror." 
His loyal flock, finely indifferent to the way in which he 
had piuxdiased his return, lined the route as men had 
done to welcome a tritunphing general in the old days. 
This must have been about the end of 357 or the 
beginning of 358, and we shall not dwell on the scenes 
which followed. Felix and his followers were driven 


24 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

out of the city. Getting reinforcements, apparently, 
they rettimed and took possession of the Basilica 
Julii in the Transtiberina ; but the mass of the faithful, 
led by Christian senators or officers, took the church by 
storm, and again swept them out of Rome. The Liber 
Pontificalis records that a number of the clergy were 
slain in the battle, and, becoming hopelessly confused 
between Pope and Anti-Pope, it awards these followers 
of Felix the palm of martyrdom. But it appears that 
the Felicians were strong, and for six years held several 
of the smaller churches ; rival clerics and laymen could 
not meet in the baths and streets without violent results. 
However, Felix died in 365, and Liberius wisely adopted 
his clerical supporters. * 

Damasus remains in decent obscurity during these 
years, and we may asstune that he repented his mistake, 
and renewed his allegiance to Liberius. But Liberius 
followed his rival in the next year (366) and the real 
career of Damasus opened. A well-known passage in 
the Res GesUe of the contemporary pagan Ammianus 
Marcellinus^ tells how, by that time, the Bishop of 
Rome scoured the city in a gorgeous chariot, gave 
banquets which excelled those of the Emperor, and 
received the smiles and rich presents of all the fine 
ladies of Rome; and the querulous old soldier is not 
surprised, he says, that Damasus and his rival Ursicinus 

' The Liber Pontificalis^ which gives these events, first lets the schis- 
matic Felix die in peace, and then introduces into the series of Pontiffs 
a Felix II., saint and martyr! To this day the fortunate Felix bears 
these honours in the liturgy. It was discovered, in 1582, that the Anti- 
Pope Felix had been confused with a real saint and martyr of that name, 
and the question of displacing him was debated at Rome. But the 
miraculous discovery of an inscription in his favour put an end to criti- 
cism. The genuine authorities arc agreed that Felix died comfortably 
in his house on the road to the Port of Rome. * XXVII., 3. 

St. Damasus and the Triumph 25 

(as the name runs in oflficial documents) were ''swollen 
with ambition " for the seat, and stirred up riots so fierce 
that the Prefect was driven out of Rome, and, after one 
fight, a hundred and thirty-seven corpses were left on 
the floor of one of the "Christian conventicles." 
Jerome,* Rufinus,' and other ecclesiastical writers of 
the time place the fatal rioting beyond question, and 
we may therefore, with a prudent reserve, follow the 
closer description given in the LibeUus. 

As soon as the death of Liberius became known, in 
September, 366, the remnant of his original supporters 
met in the Basilica Julii, across the river, and elected 
the deacon Ursicinus, who was at once consecrated by a 
provincial bishop. It was an act of defiance to Dam- 
asus, the popular candidate, whom they were deter- 
mined to exclude. Then, say these writers, Damasus 
gathered and bribed a mob, armed with staves, and 
for three days there was a bloody fight for the posses- 
sion of the basilica. A week after the death of Liber- 
ius (or on October ist), Damasus marched with his 
mob, now effectively reinforced by gladiators, to the 
Lateran Basilica, and was consecrated there. After this, 
he bribed the Prefect Viventius to expel seven priests of 
the rival party, but the people rescued them and con- 
ducted them to the Basilica Liberii, or Basilica Sicinini 
(now Sta. Maria Maggiore), in the poor quarter across 
the river. In this chapel the rebels were at worship in 
the early morning of October 26th when a crowd of 
gladiators, charioteers, diggers (or guardians of the 
Catacombs), and other ruffians (in the pay of Damasus, 
of course) fell on them with staves, swords, and axes, 
and an historic fight ensued. The Damasians stormed 
the barricaded door, fired the sacred building, mounted 

« Year 36^ • II., 10. 

26 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the roof, and flung tiles on the Ursicinians. In the 
end the corpses of one hundred and sixty— Ammianus 
was too modest — followers of Ursicinus, of both sexes, 
lay on the floor of the blood-splashed chapel, and Ur- 
sicinus and his chief supporters were sent into exile. 

Such is the tale of woe of the priests Faustinus and 
Marcellinus, and there is no doubt whatever that for 
months the most savage encounters desecrated the 
chapels and Catacombs of Rome. As to whether Dam- 
asus was or was not elected in his Church of St. Law- 
rence in the city before the election of Ursicinus the 
authorities are not agreed; and it must be left to the 
decision of the reader whether those who secured his 
triumph were really a hired mob of gladiators and diggers 
or a troop of pious and indignant admirers. Jerome, 
whose modem biographer, Am6d6e Thierry,' plausibly 
contends that he was studying in Rome at the time, 
expressly says that the followers of his patron Damasus 
were the aggressors, and that many men and women 
were slain. Rufinus is more favourable to the cause of 
Damasus, but he admits that the churches were "filled 
with blood. " 

The Emperor seems not to have been convinced by 
the report of the tritmaphant faction, and in the follow- 
ing year he permitted Ursicinus and his followers to 
retian to Rome. But the trouble was renewed, and 
the Anti-Pope was again banished. His obstinate ad- 
mirers then met in the Catacombs, and another fierce 
and fatal fight occurred in the cemetery of St. Agnes, 
where the servants of Damasus surprised them. It is 
clear that Damasus had the support of the wealthy and 
the favour of the pagan officials, but his rival must have 
controlled a very large, if not the larger, part of the 

' Saint Jerome^ 1867. 

St Damasus and the Triumph 2^ 

people. The forces engaged, and the growth of the 
Christian body, may be estimated from the fact that, 
as Ammianus says, the Prefect Viventius was compelled 
to retire to the suburbs. He was promptly replaced, in 
the attempt to control the rioters, by the ruthless and 
impartial Maximinus, the Prefect of the Food-distribu- 
tion; and clerics and laymen were indiscriminately put 
to the torture and punished. At length, in 368, one of 
the last of the sober old Roman patricians, Praetextatus, 
became Prefect, and put an end to the riots. The 
reflections of Praetextatus and Symmachus and other 
cultivated pagans are not recorded, but we are told by 
St. Jerome that, when Damasus endeavoured to con- 
vert the Prefect, he mischievously replied: ''Make me 
Bishop of Rome and I will be a Christian. " 

Ursicinus went to din his grievances into the ears of 
provincial bishops, and there seems to be good ground 
for the statement in the Libellus that some of these were 
indignant with Damasus. It is at least clear that 
Damasus went on to obtain from the Emperor a con- 
cession of the most far-reaching character. The 
imperial rescript making this concession — one of the 
really important steps in the history of the Papacy and 
of the Church — ^has strangely disappeared, but we find 
the bishops of a later Roman synod (in 378 or 379) 
writing to Gratian and Valentinian that, when Ursicinus 
was banished, the Emperors had decreed that "the 
Roman bishop should have power to inquire into the 
conduct of the other priests of the churches, and that 
affairs of religion should be judged by the pontiff of 
religion with his colleagues."' A later rescript of 
Gratian indicates that the Bishop of Rome was to 
have five or seven colleagues with him in these inquir- 

' Mftt»«^ Sacrorum Conciliorum CoUectio, iii., 625. 

28 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

ies' ; and further light is thrown on the matter by St. Am- 
brose who observes^ that, by a degree of Valentinian, 
a defendant in a religious dispute was to have a judge 
of a fitting character (a cleric) and of at least equal 
rank. Possibly the truculent impartiality of Max- 
iminus was the immediate occasion for asking this 
privilege, and Valentinian would not find it unseemly 
that bishops should adjudicate on these new types of 
quarrels. But we have in this last doctunent the germ 
of great historical developments. The clergy were 
virtually withdrawn from secular jurisdiction; the 
spiritual court was set up in face of the secular. More- 
over, if defendants were to be judged only by their 
equals, who was to judge the Bishop of Rome? 

Damasus at once used his powers. He convoked a 
synod at Rome, and we may realize the enormous 
progress that the Church had made in fifty years when 
we learn that ninety-three Italian bishops responded to 
his summons. On a charge of favouring Arianism, 
which seems to cloak a real charge of favouring Ursi- 
cinus, the bishops of Parma and Puteoli were deposed by 
the synod, and they appealed in vain to the court. 
Henceforward bishops — under the presidency of the 
Bishop of Rome — were to judge bishops. The cultivated 
and courtly Auxentius of Milan was next condemned, 
but he was too secure in the favour of the Empress to 
do more than smile. Neither he nor his great successor, 
St. Ambrose, acknowledged any authority over them 
on the part of the Roman bishop. 

From this sjmod, moreover, the bishops wrote to the 
Emperor to ask that secular officials should be in- 
structed to enforce their jurisdiction and sentences, and 

we shall hardly be unjust if we suspect the direct or 

' Mansi, iii., 628. ' Ep,^ xxi. 

St Damasus and the Triumph 29 

indirect suggestion of Damasus in their further requests. 
They asked that bishops might be tried either by the 
Bishop of Rome or by a council of fifteen bishops, and 
that the Bishop of Rome himself might, **if his case 
were not laid before an (episcopal) council," defend 
himself before the Imperial Council. * This bold at- 
tempt of the Roman bishop to judge all bishops, yet be 
judged by none, seems to have displeased the Emperor, 
who may have consulted the Bishop of Milan. We 
have, at least, no indication that the privilege was 
granted. But the other points were granted, and 
instructions were issued to the secular officers, in Gaul 
as well as in Italy, apprising them of the juridical 
autonomy of the Church and of their duty to enforce 
its decisions. Out of his troubles Damasus had won a 
most important step in the making of the Papacy. 

Unfriendly critics might suggest that Damasus paid 
a price for these powers. A curious passage in the 
historian Socrates^ tells us that, in the year 370, Valen- 
tinian decreed that every man might henceforward 
marry two wives. The statement is often rejected as 
preposterous, but we know that Valentinian had, 
shortly before, divorced his wife, Severa, in favour of 
the more comely Justina, and it is probable enough 
that he passed a law of divorce. The learned Tillemont 
blushes when he finds no ecclesiastical protest at the 
time against this flagrant return to pagan morals. 

However that may be, Damasus, from his palace by 
the Lateran Basilica, continued to strengthen his new 
authority and to regulate the disordered Church. 
Rome still harboured numbers of rebels, and they seem 
to have caused him serious annoyance by a persistent 
charge that, in earlier years, he had sinned with a 

« Mansi, liL, 624. « IV., 26. 

30 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Roman matron. A converted and relapsed Jew was 
put forward as the chief witness to the charge, and, 
when the young Emperor Gratian had failed to impress 
Rome by his personal assurance that Damasus was 
innocent, a Roman synod of forty-four bishops professed 
to investigate and dismiss the accusation. Ursicinus 
was now, however, living at Milan, and it is not im- 
plausibly suggested that his insistence made some 
impression on the piuitanical yoimg Emperor. The 
case was submitted to the Coimcil of Aquileia in 380, 
at which St. Ambrose presided, and the bishops de- 
clared the innocence of Damasus and demanded the 
sectdar ptmishment of his accusers, who were now 
scattered over Europe. The Roman rebels then 
masked their hostility by joining an eccentric, though 
orthodox, sect in the capital whose ascetic leader bore 
the name of Lucifer. On these Luciferians in turn the 
hand of Damasus fell with ruthless severity. Their 
renowned Macarius, the champion faster of the time 
outside the Egyptian desert, was physically dragged into 
court and banished, and the ' ' police " pursued them from 
one secret meeting-place to another. It is at this time 
that Faustinus aiid Marcellinus, who had joined the 
rigorous sect, addressed their Libellus to the Emperors. 
Over the remainder of Italy and over Gaul Damasus 
did not press the virtual primacy which he had won from 
the imperial authorities, and the later language of Leo 
and Gregory makes it advisable for us to grasp clearly 
the situation in the fourth century. There was no ques- 
tion of Papal supremacy. No important decision was 
reached by Damasus apart from a synod, and the See 
of Milan was not regarded as subordinate in authority 
to that of Rome; though St. Ambrose naturally ex- 
pressed a peculiar respect for the doctrinal tradition of 

St Damasus and the Triumph 31 

a church that had been founded by the great apostles. 
When the Spanish PrisciUianists applied to Italy for 
aid, they appealed, says Sulpicius Severus, "to the two 
bishops who had the highest authority at that time. " 
When the great struggle with the pagan senators over 
the statue of Victory took place in 382, it was Ambrose 
who championed Christianity, Damasus merely send- 
ing to him the Roman petition. But Damasus knew 
the theoretical strength of his position, and knew, as a 
rule, when to enforce it. In 378, the Emperors severed 
Illyricum (Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, and Macedonia) 
from the Western Empire. Damasus at once contrived 
that its bishops should look not to the Eastern churches 
but to himself for direction and support, and from that 
time onward the Bishop of Thessalonica became the 
*' Vicar" of the Bishop of Rome. 

We must leave this vague and imperfect primacy in 
the West, with its secular foundations, and turn to the 
more interesting and adventtu^ous course of the diplo- 
macy of Damasus in the East. The narrow limits 
within which each of these sketches must be confined 
forbid me to attempt to depict the extraordinary con- 
fusion of the Eastern Church. It must suffice to say, 
in few words, that the struggle against paganism was 
almost lost in the fiery struggle against heresy, and that 
the hand of the Arian Valens smote the orthodox as 
violently and persistently as the hand of any pagan 
emperor had done. The various refinements of the 
Arian heresy, the lingering traces of old heresies, and the 
vigorous beginnings of new heresies, rent each church 
into factions as violent as those of Rome, and made each 
important See the theatre of a truculent rivalry. Con- 
stantinople, or New Rome as it loved to call itself, was 
the natural centre of the Eastern reUgious world, but it 

32 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

was overshadowed by the Arian court and its growing 
pretensions were watched by the apostolic churches of 
Antioch and Alexandria almost as jealously as by Old 
Rome. The triumph over paganism had, before it was 
half compl§ted, given place to a dark and sanguinary 
confusion, from the shores of the Euxine to the sands of 
the Thebaid. 

In 371 St. Basil appealed to Damasus for assistance. 
He sent the deacon Dorotheus with a letter' asking the 
Italians to send to the East visitors who might report 
to them the condition of the churches. Damasus, not 
flattered by the lowliness of the embassy or by the 
smallness of the request, and still much occupied in 
the West, merely sent his deacon Sabinus. To a 
further impassioned appeal from Basil he gave no clearer 
promise of aid, and Basil indignantly observed that it 
was useless to appeal to *' a proud and haughty man who 
sits on a lofty throne and cannot hear those who tell 
him the truth on the grotmd below." * Basil made 
further futile appeals to the West, though not to Dam- 
asus, and at length, in 381, the Eastern bishops met in 
the Cotmcil of Constantinople, discussed their own 
affairs, and, in a famous canon, awarded the See of 
Constantinople a primacy in the East. Shortly after- 
wards a synod was held in Italy, tmder Ambrose, and 
it sent to the Emperor Theodosius a letter in which the 
concern of the Italians was plainly expressed.^ The 
bishops ask Theodosius to assist in convoking an 
Ecumenical Cotmcil at Rome, and say that "it seems 
not imworthy that they [the Eastern bishops] should 

' Ep,f Ixx. 

^Ep., ccxv.; see also Ep,, ccxxxix. and cclxvi., for violent language. 
All the letters of the Popes, up to Innocent III., are in this work 
quoted from the Migne edition. 

3 Mansi, iii., 631. 

St. Damasus and the Triumph 33 

submit to the Bishop of Rome and the other Italian 
bishops " ; though they " do not claim any prerogative of 
judgment. " It is interesting to note at this stage how 
the Bishop of Rome does not yet stand apart from the 
other Italian bishops or claim jurisdiction over the East. 
In a letter written by Damasus somewhere about this 
time to certain oriental bishops, there is question of 
"reverence for the Apostolic See " and of the foundation 
of that See by Peter, but such language is rare and pre- 
mature, and is not implausibly ascribed to St. Jerome, 
who was then at Rome. " To the Eastern emperor and 
to the Eastern patriarchs it is not addressed. 

Theodosius ignored the request, and sanctioned the 
holding of another Council at Constantinople. The 
Westerns had, in the meantime, announced an Ecu- 
menical Council at Rome for the summer of 382, and 
invited their Eastern brethren. From one cause or 
other, the proceedings at Rome were delayed, and, 
while the Italians still anxiously awaited the response 
to their invitation, a letter came with the message that 
the Eastern bishops had settled the questions in dispute, 
and they regretted that they had not '*the wings of a 
dove" in order that they might fly from '* the great city 
of Constantinople" to "the great city of Rome." The 
letter is a model of polite and exquisite irony.* The 
statesmanship of Damasus had hopelessly miscarried, 
and the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom 
were farther than ever from uniting under his presidency. 

A more intimate aspect of the. character of Damasus is 
disclosed when we consider the condition of the Roman 
clergy during his Pontificate. It almost suffices to 
recall that an imperial rescript of the year 370 forbade 

* The letter is in Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History, v., la 

* Theodoret, y., 9. 

34 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

priests and monks to visit the houses of widows and 
orphans, and declared that legacies to them were in- 
valid. St. Jerome himself deplores that there were 
solid reasons for thus depriving the clergy of a privilege 
which every gladiator enjoyed, and that the law was 
shamefully frustrated by donations." Indeed, in 372, 
the law was extended to nuns and bishops, and for 
nearly a himdred years the Roman clergy bore the 
stigma which was implied by such a prohibition. 

Jerome's letters ruthlessly depict the condition of the 
Roman community. Fresh from his austerities in the 
desert of Chalcidia, the impulsive monk was as ready 
to denounce vice as to encourage virtue, and evidences 
of singular laxity mingle with heroic virtue in his vivid 
pages. On the one hand he directed, in the sobered 
palace of Marcella on the Aventine, a group of noble 
dames in the practice of the most rigorous piety and 
the cultivation of sacred letters. The populace even 
threatened to fling him into the river, when the lovely 
and high-bom Blesilla terminated her austerities by a 
premature death, and even Christian writers fiercely 
contested this introduction into Rome of the ideals of 
the Egyptian desert. But, on the other hand, Jerome's 
directions to his pupils incidentally betray that, beyond 
his little school of virtue and learning, he saw nothing 
but sin and worldliness. In plain and crude speech he 
warns his pupils to shun their Christian neighbours 
and distrust the priests. Sombre as are many of the 
letters which Seneca wrote in the days of Nero, not one 
of them can compare with Jerome's lengthy letter to the 
gentle maiden Eustochium.* He fills her virgin mind 
with a comprehensive picture of frailty and frivolity, 
and tells her that she may regard, not as a Christian, 

« Ep. lii. » Ep., xxii. 

St Damasus and the Triumph 35 

but as a Manichaean, any austere-looking woman whom 
she may meet on the streets of Rome. He denounces 
"the new genus of concubines, " the ** spiritual brothers 
and sisters, " who share the same house, even the same 
bed, and, if you protest, complain that you are evil- 
minded. Eustochitun is to avoid gatherings of Chris- 
tian women, and must never be alone with these clerics, 
who, exquisitely dressed, their hair curled and oiled, 
their fingers glittering with rings, spend the livelong 
day wheedling presents out of their wealthy admirers. 
I omit the graver details given in this and other letters 
of the outraged monk. 

The impartial historian cannot regard with reserve 
the criticisms which Ammianus passed on his pagan 
feUows and then literally accept Jerome's more severe 
strictures on his fellow-Christians. There is exagger- 
ation on both sides. Yet no one now questions that 
the Christian community at Rome, lay and clerical, 
had in the days of Damasus fallen far below its ideals, 
and it is not pleasant that we find little or no trace of 
an episcopal struggle against this corruption. It is 
sometimes said that the rescript which prevented 
priests from inheriting was passed at the request of the 
Pope. For this statement there is no historical groimd 
whatever, and it is in the highest degree improbable. It 
is dear that prosperity had lowered the character of the 
Church, from its bishop down to its grave-diggers; and 
the laments of St. Ambrose at Milan, of St. Chrysostom 
at Antioch and Constantinople, and of St. Augustine 
in Africa, indicate a general relaxation. The Roman 
world must pass through another severe and search- 
ing trial before men like Leo I. and Gregory I. arise 
in it. 

This conception of Damasus as a courtly and lenient 

36 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

prelate is not materially modified when we regard his 
more strictly religious work. He restored the Church of 
St. Lawrence, in which he and his father had served: he 
built a tiny basilica — little more than a princely tomb for 
himself, Marucchi believes — on the Via Ardeatina: he 
erected a new baptistery at St. Peter's. These are not ex- 
ceptionally impressive works of piety in so prosperous an 

Damasus was an artist : not — ^if we judge him by his 
Epigrams — a man of much inspiration, but one who 
perceived the value of art in the service of religion. 
Jerome tells us that he wrote in prose and verse on the 
beauty of virginity, but we know his very modest 
poetical talent only from the surviving fifty or sixty 
inscriptions with which he adorned the graves of the 
martyrs or the chapels.' He had a genuine passion for 
the adornment and popularization of the Catacombs. 
They were already falling into decay, and Damasus 
cleared the galleries, made new air-shafts, and decorated 
the more important chambers with marble slabs and 
silver rails. No doubt he did this in part with a 
view to attracting the pagans, but there can be little 
doubt that he had a strong personal sentiment for the 

With the assistance of J erome, he also endeavoured to 
improve the literary standard of the Church. Jerome 
revised the **01d Italian" translation of the Bible; and 
it seems probable that the canon of the Scriptures which 
has until recently been regarded as part of a ''Gelasian 
Decree" was composed by Jerome, under the authority 
of Damasus, and promulgated by a Roman synod. 
The canon can hardly be due to the pen which wrote 
the rambling and uncultivated list of books which fol- 

* The best collection is Ihm's Damasi EpigramnuUa (1895). 

St Damasus and the Triumph 37 

lows it; probably a later hand united the two and 
ascribed them to Gelasius.' 

The eighteen years' Pontificate of Damasus came to a 
close in 384. He is not in the line of heroic Popes. He 
was, at his elevation, in his seventh decade of life and his 
remaining energy was largely spent in struggling against 
the disastrous consequences of his election. He suc- 
ceeded rather by geniality of temper and the services of 
others than by strong personal exertion. But he was 
lucky in his opportunities. He had control of the new 
wealth of the Papacy, and the Emperors with whom he 
had to deal were the indifferent or undisceming Valen- 
tinian and the pious and youthful* Gratian. Hence he 
added materially to the foundations of the mediaeval 
Papacy. One might almost venture to say that the 
dogmatic Roman conception of a primacy inherited from 
Peter dates from the scriptural discussions of Damasus 
and Jerome. They were not the authors of that concep- 
tion, but it would henceforward form the essential part 
of the Papal attitude. 

« There is a third part of this " Gelasian Decree," which assigns to the 
Papacy an absolute primacy derived from Peter. It is improbable that 
this was due to Damasus. A letter hitherto ascribed to Pope Sirianus 
(£^., X. in Mignc) has lately been claimed for Damasus (Babut, La 
^us ancienne dScr Stale, 1904), but there is not enough evidence to date 
it. It is a series of directions, better known as Canons of the Romans to 
the Bishops of Gaul, on the subject of clerical celibacy, fallen virgins, 



DURING the half-century which followed the death 
of Damasus occurred two of the decisive events 
in the transformation of the Roman Empire into Chris- 
tian Europe. Paganism was destroyed, and the Empire 
was shattered. Jerome had, with rhetorical inaccuracy, 
described the great temple of Jupiter as squalid and 
deserted in the days of Damasus. Now it was in truth 
deserted, for the imperial seal was set on its closed doors; 
and the same seal guarded the door of the temples of 
Isis and Mithra. The homeless gods had sheltered for a 
time in the schools and in patrician mansions, but these 
also had fallen with the Empire. The southern half 
of Europe became a disordered, semi-Christian world, 
over which poured from the northern forests fresh 
armies of barbarians. The City of Man was wrecked; 
and it was not unnatural that the Papacy should aspire 
to make its old metropolis the centre of the new City of 

Two Popes of weak ability had followed Damasus, 
and witnessed, rather than accomplished, the ruin of the 
old religion. It was Ambrose who had directed the 
convenient youth of Gratian and Valentinian II., and 
had dislodged the pagans and other rivals at the point 
of the spear. Innocent I. (402-417) was a greater man: 
an upright priest, an able statesman, a zealous believer 


Leo the Great 39 

in the divine right of Popes. Mihnan has finely drawn 
him serenely holding his sceptre at Rome while the 
Emperor cowered behind the fortifications at Ravenna. 
While Rome tumbled in ruins about him, he continued 
calmly to tell the bishops of Gaul and Spain and Italy 
what the "Apostolic See" directed them to do. His 
ptmy yet bombastic successor, Zosimus, maintained the 
solitary blunder, without the redeeming personality, 
of Innocent, and might have wrecked the Papacy if 
he had not died within a year or so. The worthier 
Boniface and still worthier Celestine restored Roman 
prestige in some measure, and, in 440, after the edifying 
but undistinguished Pontificate of Sixtus III., Leo the 
Great entered the chronicle. 

Leo, a Roman of Tuscan extraction, was the chief 
deacon of the Roman Church, and corresponded with 
Cyril of Alexandria on Eastern affairs. It was probably 
at his instigation that the learned Cassianus wrote his 
treatise On the Incarnation of Christ. In 440, Leo was 
sent by the Emperor to reconcile the generals Aetius and 
Albinus, who quarrelled while the Empire perished. 
Sixtus died in his absence, and Leo was unanimously 
elected to the Papacy. Toward the close of September 
he returned to Rome, and glanced about the troubled 
I world which he had now to rule. 

The dogmatic Papal conception, which we find dawn- 
ing in the mind of Damasus and see very clear in the 
mind of Innocent I. and his successors, reached its full de- 
velopment, on the spiritual side, in the mind of Leo the 
Great. This development was inevitable. There were 
Eastern, and even some Western, bishops who main- 
tained, against Leo, that the prestige of the Roman See 
was merely the prestige of Rome, but the answer of the 
Papacy was easy and effective. In the Gospels which 

40 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Europe now treasured, Peter was the "rock" on which 
the Church was built, and to him alone had been given 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Had the Church 
lost its foundation when Peter died? Were the keys 
buried beside the bones of Peter in that marble tomb 
at the foot of the Vatican? There was, from the clerical 
point of view, logic in the Roman bishop's claim to have 
inherited the princedom. Leo from the first hour of his 
Pontificate was sincerely convinced of it. His sermons 
are full of it. To him is committed "the care of all the 
Churches": a phrase which he bequeaths to his suc- 
cessors. He is the new type of Roman, blending the 
ideas of Jerome and Augustine. The wreck of the City 
of Man matters little. What matters is that these Arian 
Goths and Vandals are trampling on the City of God : 
that the churches of Gaul and Spain and Italy and 
Africa and the East are in disorder, and the successor 
of Peter must restore their discipline. He is so ab- 
sorbed in his divine duty that he does not notice how the 
circumstances favour him. Every other lofty head in 
the Empire is bowed, and from the seething and impov- 
erished provinces hundreds are looking to the strong 
man at Rome. 

His early letters are the letters of a Supreme Pontiff. 
The African bishops, he hears, suffer dreadful disorders 
in their churches. Elections to church-dignities are 
bought and sold : even laymen and twice-married clerics 
become bishops. With serene indifference to the earlier 
history of the African Church and its tradition of in- 
dependence, he peremptorily recalls the canons and 
insists on their observance. ^ Fortimately for him, the 
long struggle against the Donatists and the devastating 
onset of the Vandals have enfeebled, almost annihilated, 

« Ep., xiL 


Leo the Great 41 

the African Church, and there is none to question his 

He hears that Anatolius has been made Bishop of 
Thessalonica, and writes* to remind him that he is the 
*' vicar" of the Roman bishop, the successor of Peter, 
*'on the solidity of which foundation the Church is 
established. " When, at a later date, Anatolius uses his 
power harshly, he sternly rebukes him. And it is in- 
teresting to notice what the discipline is on which he 
insists in this letter. * Even subdeacons shall not marry, 
or, if they are married, shall not know their wives. We 
are very far away from Callistus. 

Another aspect of Leo's character appears in his 
treatment of the Manichaeans at Rome : an interesting 
illustration of how he kept the strength and serenity of 
the old Roman though lacking his culture. Leo had 
a terribly sombre idea of the Manichaeans. They 
lingered in obscure comers of the metropolis, and met 
stealthily, just as Christians had done two centuries 
earlier; and of them were told, as had been told of the 
obscure Christians, dreadful stories. Leo conducted a 
great inquisition in 444, and brought the Manichaean 
bishop, with his "elect," to a solemn judgment before 
the clergy and nobles of Rome. There, he says,^ they 
all confessed that the violation of a girl of ten years was 
part of their ritual. He called down upon them the 
secular arm, and crushed them in Rome and Italy. 
What sort of a judicial process was employed to elicit 
this extraordinary confession — so utterly at variance 
with all that we know of the ascetic Manichaeans — ^we 
are not told. But we are painfully reminded of a similar 
declaration of Augustine in his old age.^ 

* Ep,, vL » Ep., xiv. > Sermon rvi 

* See the attthor's Saint Augustine and His Age, p. 409. 

42 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

In Gaul, the Pope encountered one of the last oppo- 
nents of Papal aims in the West. The province was 
completely demoralized by the triumphant barbarians 
and by the arrival of lax clergy from Africa. In a 
letter of uncertain date, ' Leo gives us a dark picture of 
the state of things in the southern provinces, and this is 
more than confirmed in the work of the Marseilles 
priest Salvianus, De Gubernatione Dei. Laymen pose as 
bishops, Leo says: priests sleep with their wives, and 
marry their daughters to men who keep concubines: 
monks serve in the army, or marry : and so on. From 
this disordered world men were ever ready to appeal to 
the authority of Rome, and, in 445, a Bishop Celidonius 
came to complain of the harshness of his metropolitan, 
the austere and saintly Hilary of Aries. Hilary fol- 
lowed his Bishop to Rome, and, when Leo decided 
against him, the saint made use, says Leo, ^ of "language 
which no layman even should dare to use and no priest 
to hear," and then **fled disgracefully" from Rome. 

Again we are in a dilemma between two saints, and 
we must weigh as best we can the letters of Leo against 
the biography of Hilary. It vnVL be found a general 
truth of early Papal history that the man who appeals 
to Rome is heard more indulgently than the opponent 
who did not appeal. Hilary, who had deposed the 
Bishop in plain accordance with the rules, resented 
Leo's conduct, and scoffed at his supposed supremacy. 
He then apprehended violence, and stealthily left 
Rome for Gaul. Leo thereupon — or after hearing new 
charges against Hilary — ^wrote to the bishops of Vienne* 
that they were released from obedience to Hilary, who 
was thenceforward to confine himself to Aries. Whether 
Hilary ever submitted or no we have no certain know- 

» Ep,, clxvii. * Ep.f X., 3. » Ep,t x. 

Leo the Great 43 

ledge, but the aSair had an important sequel. In the 
same year (449), an imperial rescript,* confessedly 
obtained by Leo, confirmed the sentence, and added: 

We lay down this for ever, that neither the bishops of Gaul 
nor those of any other province shall attempt anything 
contrary to ancient usage, without the authority of the 
venerable man, the Pope of the Eternal City. 

Even in the height of this quarrel other provinces 
were not neglected, as a few letters of the year 447 amply 
show. The letter to the Spanish Bishop Turribius 
of Astorga* is notable as the first explicit Papal 
approval of the execution of a heretic. It is usual to 
point out that the errors of Priscillian, the heretic in 
question, were believed to include magical practices 
(then a legal and social crime) as well as Manichaean 
and Gnostic tenets. But we must recognize one of the 
most terrible principles of the Middle Ages, and some- 
thing far more than social zeal, in the following words of 

Although ecclesiastical mildness shrinks from blood-punish- 
ments, yet it is aided by the severe decrees of Christian 
princes, since they who fear corporal suflEering will have 
recourse to spiritual remedies. 

Here is no reference to legal or social crimes, but to an 
error which concerns the ecclesiastic. Similar letters, 
enforcing discipline in the accents of an undisputed head 
of the Church, were sent to the bishops of Sicily, ^ the 
bishop of Beneventum,^ and the bishop of Aquileia. 
These quotations from the letters and sermons of Leo 
will suffice, not only to show the untiring energy and 

* Ep., id., in Migne. * Ep., zv. 

I XVL and xvii. * XIX. 

44 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

lofty aim of the man, but to convince us that the 
primacy of Rome in the West is now won. West of 
the Adriatic, St. Hilary is the last great rebel against 
the Roman conception. It is true that this spiritual 
supremacy is still, in part, reliant on "the severe decrees 
of Christian princes," but the imperial authority is 
fast fading into nothing, and in another generation the 
Papal autocracy will stand alone. Leo was not ambi- 
tious. Something of the instinctive masterliness of the 
older Roman may be detected in his actions, but he was 
a profoundly religious man, seeking neither wealth nor 
honours of earth, convinced at once that he discharged a 
divine duty and exerted an authority of the most be- 
neficent value to that disordered Christendom. The 
calamities of Europe had changed the empty glories of 
a Damasus into a power second only to that of Octavian. 

When we turn to the East we have not only a most 
valuable indication of the evolution of Christendom into 
two independent and hostile Churches, but an even 
more interesting revelation of subtle and unexpected 
shades in the character of Leo. The great Pope, aided 
by the very calamities of the time, fastens his primacy 
on Europe; and, with even mightier exertions and the 
most tense use of all his resources, he proves that an 
extension of that primacy to the East is for ever 

His friendly correspondence with Cyril of Alexandria 
was resumed in the year 444, and, in the adjustment of 
their differences, Leo made concessions. In the same 
year, Cyril died, and his successor Dioscorus was 
addressed with the same recognition of equality. 
There are differences in points of discipline, but Leo 
is content to say": "Since the blessed Peter was made 

Leo the Great 45 

chief of the apostles by the Lord, and the Roman 
Church abides by his instructions, it is impossible to 
suppose that his holy disciple Mark, who first ruled 
the Church of Alexandria, gave it other regulations." 
Five years later, however, Leo received from the East 
an appeal against the Bishop of Constantinople, and a 
notable conflict began. 

In the tmending struggle in the East over the nature 
of Christ, the monks, a fierce and turbulent rabble 
living on the fringes of the great cities, had been the 
most effective champions of orthodoxy, and great was 
their excitement when the archimandrite (or abbot) of 
one of their large monasteries outside Constantinople 
was accused of heresy. The heresy is really diagnosed 
as such by the proper authorities, but it is not super- 
fluous for the historian to observe that the monk 
Eutyches was godson of the most powerful eunuch at 
the court, and this eunuch was detested by the virtuous 
Empress Pulcheria and by Flavian, the Bishop of Con- 
stantinople. Eutyches was condenmed by a synod in 
448, and he appealed to Leo. I have observed that the 
appealer — especially from a province where Roman 
authority was disputed — always had a gracious hearing 
at the Lateran. In February, 449, Leo wrote to Flavian' 
to express his surprise that he had not sent a report of 
the proceedings to Rome and that he had disregarded 
the appeal which the monk had made from his sentence 
to Rome. However, since appeal has been made to 
Leo, "we want to know the reasons of your action, and 
we desire a full account to be commimicated to us." 
Flavian's reply* curtly described the heresy and trusted 
that Leo would see the justice of the sentence. 

In the early summer, the Emperors of East and West 

» Fp., xxiii. • Ep., xxvL 

46 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

issued a joint summons to the bishops of Christendom 
to assemble in Council at Ephesus, and Leo's letters 
indicate a feverish activity. His chief work was to 
write a long dogmatic letter' on the nature of Christ — 
a very able theological essay — to be read by his Legates 
at the Cotmcil. Dioscorus of Alexandria presided over 
this imposing assembly of 360 bishops and representa- 
tive clergy, in the presence of two imperial commis- 
sioners, the Papal Legates, and the patriarchs of Antioch 
and Jerusalem, yet it has passed into Western ecclesi- 
astical history under the opprobrious title, given to it 
by Leo,* of **The Robbers' Meeting." It is quite true 
that the sittings dissolved in brawls, and monks and 
soldiers brandished their ominous weapons over the 
heads of the bishops, but that was not unprecedented. 
The main fact was that Diosconis contemptuously re- 
fused to hear the Roman Legates, as Leo says, and in- 
duced the Council to restore Eutyches and depose 
Flavian. Deacon Hilary, one of the Legates, fled in 
terror of his life, and tmfolded these enormities to Leo, 
whose correspondence now became intense and indig- 

For a few months, Leo made strenuous efforts to 
redeem the prestige of his See. We know, since 1882, 
that Flavian in turn appealed to Rome, but Leo needed 
no new incentive. He wrote repeatedly to the pious 
Pulcheria, to Theodosius, to his "vicar" in Thessalonica, 
and to the monks, priests, and people of Constantinople. 
He knew the situation well. Alexandria had defied 
Constantinople, but the case of Constantinople was 
weakened by the division of court-factions and the 
monkish support of Eutyches. It seemed an admirable 

« The "Tome of Leo," £/>., xxviiL 
* £p., xcv. 

Leo the Great 47 

occasion for Rome to adjudicate, and Leo pressed 
Theodositis and Pulcheria' to summon an Ecumenical 
Council at Rome. In the thick of the struggle (Febru- 
ary, 450), Valentinian III. visited Rome with the court, 
and Leo, with tears in his eyes, besought the Empress 
Galla Placidia to work for the Roman Council. Galla 
Placidia knew no more than the monks about theology, 
and was more concerned about her wayward daughter 
Honoria, but she urged Pulcheria to ensure the holding 
of the Cotmcil at Rome. Presently there came from 
Constantinople the news that Theodositis was dead, 
Pulcheria was mistress of the court, the eunuch-god- 
father had been executed, the monk exiled, and the 
Archbishop Flavian restored to his See. 

But the more agreeable aspect of this situation was 
soon darkened by a report that the people of Constan- 
tinople had compelled Pulcheria to contract a virginal 
marriage with Marcian, and the new Emperor had 
summoned an Ectmienical Council in the East. Leo, 
for reasons which we may understand presently^ now 
made every effort to prevent the holding of a Council,* 
but the Emperor would not endanger his position by 
flouting the Eastern Church, and, on October 8th, 
some six htmdred bishops gathered at Chalcedon. 
Four Legates represented Leo, and were awarded a kind 
of presidency of the Cotmcil. Leo's great doctrinal 
letter was received with thunders of applause, and, 
when it was speedily decided to condemn Dioscorus 
(who had gone the length of excommunicating Leo), 
it was one of the Papal Legates who pronounced the 
sonorous sentence. But all knew that these compli- 
ments were the prelude to a very serious struggle. 

After the fourteenth session, the Papal Legates and 

■ Ep. zliiL and xlv. * Ep., Izzxii. and IxTxiii. 

48 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

imperial commissioners affected to believe that the busi- 
ness of the day was over. Later in the day, however, a 
fifteenth session was held, and the two hundred bishops 
present framed the famous twenty-eighth canon of the 
Council of Chalcedon. It runs: 

As in all things we follow the ordinances of the holy fathers 
and know the recently read canon of the hundred and fifty 
bishops [of the Council of Constantinople], so do we decree 
the same in regard to the privileges of the most holy Church 
of Constantinople. Rightly have the fathers conceded to 
the See of Old Rome its privileges on accoimt of its character 
as the Imperial City, and, moved by the same considera- 
tions, the one hundred and fifty bishops have awarded the 
like privileges to the most Holy See of New Rome.* 

This drastic restriction of the Roman bishop to the 
West, and disdainful assurance that the prestige of the 
city of Rome was the only basis of his primacy, was 
read in the next session, and the Papal Legates were 
gravely disturbed. There can be very little doubt that, 
as Hefele says, the Legates had abstained from the 
fifteenth session because they knew that this canon 
would be discussed and passed. There was no secrecy 
about it, and there was much in previous sessions that 
led to it. Indeed, it is clear that Leo himself knew of 
the design, and this probably explains his resistance, 
which has puzzled many, to the holding of the Cotmcil. 
In the heat of the discussion, the Roman Legate, Boni- 
face, produced this instruction from Leo : " If any, taking 
their stand on the importance of their cities, should 
endeavour to arrogate anything to themselves, resist 
them with all decision.*** Bishop Eusebius of Dory- 

* Hefele's History of the Councils of the Church, iii., 411. 
' Hefele, iii., 425. 

Leo the Great 49 

beum (the accuser of Eutyches) then said that he had 
read the third canon of Constantinople to Leo at 
Rome some time before the Cotmcil, and that Leo 
had assented to it. Leo afterwards denied this, but we 
must assume that he merely denied having consented, 
not the reading of the canon to him. It is quite clear 
that Leo prepared his Legates for this discussion. 

It implies no reflection whatever on the character of 
Leo that he should instruct his Legates diplomatically 
to obstruct the passing of a canon which he regarded as 
contrary to a divine ordination. But the next act of his 
Legates is more serious. Bishop Paschasinus, the chief 
Legate, produced and read, in Latin, the sixth canon 
of the famous Council of Nicaea, and the Greeks were 
amazed to leam, when it was translated, that it awarded 
the primacy to Rome. There is now no doubt that this 
was a spurious or adulterated canon, and the feelings of 
the Greeks, when they consulted the genuine canon, can 
be imagined. The session closed in a weak compromise. 
The Legates were allowed to protest that the twenty- 
eighth canon was passed in their absence, and was injuri- 
ous to the rights of their Bishop, ** who presided over the 
whole Church." The Greeks politely registered their 
protest, endorsed the canon, and proceeded to indite 
a very Greek letter to the Roman Bishop. They 
express to Leo' their deep joy at the successful congress, 
their entire respect for " the voice of Peter, " their loving 
gratitude that, through his Legates, he had presided 
over them "as the head over the members"; but they 
admit that one of their canons did not commend itself 
to his Legates and they trust that he will at once gratify 
their Emperor by endorsing it! Christendom was di- 
vided into two parts. 

« Ep.t xcviii. 


50 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

The sequel matters little. The Legates returned and 
declared that the signatures to the canon had been ex- 
torted (as Leo afterwards wrote) , though this point had 
been raised in their presence by the imperial commis- 
sioners, and its falsity put beyond dispute. To Marcian, 
to Pulcheria, and to the new Bishop of Constantinople, 
Anatolius, Leo wrote acrid letters, denouncing the 
miserable vanity and ambition of Anatolius and the 
violation of the (spurious) canons of Nicaea. Mardan 
curtly requested him — almost ordered him' — to confirm 
the results of the Council without delay, and Leo 
signed the doctrinal decisions. There the matter ended. 
Rome affected to treat the famous canon as invalid, and 
the East genially ignored the absence of Leo's signa- 

In the midst of his feverish efforts to defeat this 
Eastern rebellion, Leo was summoned to meet the 
terrible King of the Huns, and the memory of his 
triumph, gathering volume from age to age, has com- 
pletely obliterated his failure to dominate the Greeks. 
Italy, painfully enfeebled by the Goths, now saw "the 
scourge of God" slowly descend its northern slopes and 
prepare for a raid on the south. Leo and a group of 
Roman officials met Attila on the banks of the Mincio, 
and the ferocious King and his dreaded Huns meekly 
turned their backs on Italy and retired to the East. 
Pen and brush and legend have embellished that won- 

« £/>., ex. 

' In a letter which he wrote about the time (Ep., dii.) to the bishops 
of Gatd, Leo tells them that Dioscx^rus has been condemned, and says 
that he encloses a copy of the sentence. The copy appended to the letter 
is spurious, for it contains an allusion to "the holy and most blessed 
Pope, head of the universal Church, Leo . . . the foundation and rock 
of faith. " But I do not think one can say confidently that this is the 
actual document sent by Leo. 

Leo the Great 51 

derf ul deliverance tintil it has become a mystery and a 
miracle, but it was neither mystery nor miracle to the 
men who first made a scanty record of it. Jomandes' 
following the older historian Priscus, says that Attila 
was hesitating whether to advance on Rome or no at 
the moment when Leo and his companions arrived; 
his officers were trying to dissuade him, and were ap- 
pealing to his superstition with a reminder of the fate 
of Alaric after he had sacked Rome. Prosper merely 
says in his Chronicle that Leo was well received, and 
succeeded. Idatius, Bishop of Aquae Flaviae at the 
time, does not even mention Leo in his Chronicle. The 
Htms, he says, were severely stricken by war, by famine, 
and by some epidemic, and, "being in this plight, they 
made peace with the Romans and departed."* But 
Rome at the time knew nothing of these forttmate cir- 
cumstances, and, in the delirious joy of its deliverance, 
imagined the savage Htm shrinking in awe before its 
venerable Bishop: kept on imagining, indeed, until 
some pious fancy of the eighth century believed that 
the holy apostles had appeared beside the Pope. 

When, a few years later (455) a fresh invasion threat- 
ened Rome — ^when the vicious incompetence of the 
cotut amid all its desolation set afoot another feud and 
brought the Vandals from Africa — Leo went out once 
more to plead for the impoverished city. Genseric was 
not a savage; the Vandals are libelled by the grosser 
implication we associate with their name today. Yet 
he altered not one step of his onward course at the 

* De Rebus GeOcis, 1^ 

* The Chronicles of Prosper and Idatius are in Migne, vol. li. Idatius 
adds that Attila was threatened (in his rear) by the troops of Mardan, 
though we cannot trace such a movement of the Eastern troops. It was 
enough that Attila believed it. 

52 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

petitions or the threats of the venerable Pontiff. To 
say that he consented to refrain from slajdng or torttir- 
ing those who submitted, and from firing the dty, is 
merely to say that Leo failed to wring any concession 
from the largely civilized Vandal. The aged Pontiff 
sadly returned with his clergy, and for a whole fort- 
night had to listen in the Lateran Palace to the shrieks 
of the women who were dragged from their homes, and 
to receive accounts of the plundering of his churches. 
The Chtirch of St. Peter and, probably, the Lateran 
Church alone were spared. And when the Vandal 
ships had sailed away with their thousands of noble 
captives, including the Empress Eudoxia, and their 
moimds of silver, bronze, and marble, Leo had to melt 
down the larger vessels of the great basilicas to find 
the necessary chalices for his priests. 

Ancestral feelings must have stirred unconsciously 
in the mind of Leo when he beheld this second ravage of 
the city of his fathers, but he at once resumed his 
Pontifical nile. On his return from the north of Italy, 
he had foimd occasion to act once more in the East as 
if the canon of the last Coimcil were forgotten. Now 
the monks of Palestine had asserted their unyielding 
zeal, had driven the patriarch of Jerusalem from his 
seat, and had won to their cause the romantic Empress 
Eudoxia (of the Eastern court) whose suspected amours 
had brought on her a polite sentence of exile. Leo at 
once, somewhat superfluously, called the pious Mar- 
cian's attention to the ecclesiastical disorders in his 
kingdom, and, apparently at that Emperor's request, 
wrote paternal admonitions to Eudoxia and to the 
monks. It was gratifying to be able to report presently 
that the disorders were at an end. 

Later (in 453) the monks of Cappadocia gave trouble ; 

Leo the Great 53 

and the monks and other supporters of the deposed 
Dioscorus at Alexandria entered upon a far graver 
agitation, and murdered their new archbishop. The 
pious Marcian, to make matters worse, died (457), and, 
by one of those strange intrigues which disgraced the 
Eastern cotirt, Leo the Isaurian, an astute peasajit, 
motmted the golden throne. On this man Leo's diplo- 
matic mixture of cotirtly language and high sacerdotal 
pretensions made Uttle impression. In spite of Leo's 1/ 
protests" he called another General Coimcil, and Leo 
had to be content to send Legates to inform the as- 
sembled bishops what is "the rule of apostolic f^th"; 
which he again set forth in a long dogmatic epistle.* 
To the last year, Leo maintained, serenely and im- 
swervingly, his calm assumption of jurisdiction over the 
East. Whether he wrote to the patriarch of Anti- 
och,^ or the patriarch of Constantinople, ^ or the patri- 
archs of Jerusalem and Alexandria, he spoke as if his 
sovereignty had never been questioned. "The care of 
all the churches" lies on his shoulders. He disdains 
diplomacy and argument. His tone is arrogant and 
dogmatic in the highest degree, yet no man can read 
reflectively those long and imperious epistles and not 
realize that he spoke, not as the individual Leo, de- 
manding personal prestige, but as the successor of Peter, 
obeying a command which, he sincerely believed, Christ 
had laid upon him. 

So the Papacy was built up. Leo went his way on 
November 10, 461, and was buried, fitly, in the vesti- 
bule of St. Peter's. He had formulated for all time the 
Papal conception that the successor of Peter had the 
care of all the churches of the world. A bishop shall 
not buy his seat in Numidia: a rabble of monks shall 

"E^.dxiL 'CLXV. * CXLIX. 4CLXX, 

54 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

not rebel in Syria: a prelate shall not harshly treat his 
clergy in Gatd, but the Bishop of Rome must see to it. 
How that gatmt frame of duty was perfected in the next 
two centuries, and how the prosperity of later times 
hid the austere frame tmder a garment of flesh, is the 
next great chapter in the evolution of the Roman 



SEVENTEEN Pontiflfs successively ruled in the 
Lateran Palace during the hundred and thirty 
years which separate the death of Leo I. and the acces- 
sion of Gregory I. The first seven were not unworthy 
to succeed Leo, although one of them, Anastasius (496- 
498), is unjustly committed to Dante's hell for his 
liberality. ' 

During their tenure of office the Arian Ostrogoth 
Theodoric set up his promising kingdom in Italy, 
and the stricken country partly recovered. But the 
succeeding Popes were smaller-minded men, looking 
darkly on the heresy of Theodoric and longing to see 
him displaced by the Catholic Eastern Emperor. 
Their unfortunate policy was crowned by a betrayal 
of Rome to the troops of Justinian; and its fruit 
was the establishment on the throne of Peter, by 

■Another of them, Gelasius (492-496), is, or was until recently, re- 
garded as the author of the first canon of Scriptures and the first list 
of prohibited books. But this so-called " Gelasian Decree " does not 
bear the name of GeuRli^^i some of the older manuscripts, and is now 
much disputed. Father 4^V thinks that " we may take it as certain 
that it did not emanate from him " {History of Rome and the Popes, 
iii., 236). The canon is probably due to Damasus (see p. 36} and the 
rather loosely written list of books which follows it is ascribed to the 
later age of Hormisdas (514-523). Gelasius was an able and vigorous 
Pope, and would hardly issue so poor a decree. 

56 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the unscrupulous Theodora, of the sorriest adven- 
turer that had yet defiled it (Pope Vigilius), the 
reduction of Italy to the state of a province of the 
corrupt and extortionate East, and a lamentable de- 
pendence of the See of Rome on the whim of the Byzan- 
tine autocrat. Seeing its increasing feebleness, a new 
and fiercer tribe of the barbarians, the Lombards, 
poured over Italy ; and it was a city of ruins, a kingdom 
of desolation, a continent of anarchy, which Gregory 
I. was, in the year 590, forced to undertake to control. 
At Rome the monuments of what was shudderingly 
called a pagan age were falling, year by year, into the soil 
which would preserve them for a more appreciative race. 
In Gregory's day, across the Tiber from the old quar- 
ter, there were to be seen only the mouldering crowns 
of the theatres and amphitheatres, the grass-girt ruins 
on the Capitol and on the Palatine, and the charred 
skeletons of thousands of patrician mansions on the 
more distant hills. Forty thousand Romans now trem- 
bled where a million had once boasted their eternal 
empire. And, as one sees in some fallen forest, a new 
life was springing up on the ruins. Beside the decaying 
Neronian Circus rose the Basilica of St. Peter's, to 
which strange types of pilgrims made their way under 
the modest colonnade leading from the river. From 
the heart of the old Laterani Palace towered the great 
Basilica of the Saviour (later of St. John) and the man- 
sion of the new rulers of the world. The temples were 
still closed, and tumbling into ruins; for no one yet 
proposed to convert into churches those abodes of evil 
spirits, which one passed hurriedly at night. But on 
all sides churches had been built out of the fallen stones, 
and monks and nuns trod the dismantled fora, and new 
processions filed along the decaying streets. If you 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 57 

mounted the hills, you would see the once prosperous 
Campagna a poisonous marsh, sending death into the 
city every few years; and you would learn that such 
was the condition of much of Italy, where the Lom- 
bard now completed the work of Goth and Greek, and 
that from the gates of Constantinople to the forests 
of Albion this incomprehensible brood of barbarians 
was treading under foot what remained of Roman 

The book of what we call ancient history was closed : 
the Middle Age was beginning. Gregory was peculiarly 
adapted to impress the world at this stage of transition. 
His father, Gordianus, had been a wealthy patrician, 
with large estates in Sicily and a fine mansion on the 
Cadian hill. De Rossi would make him a descendant 
of the great family of the Anicii, but the deduction is 
strained. Gregory's mother was a saint. He inher- 
ited vigour and administrative ability, and was reared 
in the most pious and most credulous spirit of the time. 
He was put to letters, and we are told that he excelled 
all others in every branch of culture. Let us say, from 
his works, that — probably using the writings of the Latin 
fathers as models — he learned to write a Latin which 
Jerome would almost have pronounced barbarous, but 
which people of the sixth century would think excel- 
lent, at times elegant. There was very little culture 
left in Rome in Gregory's days.' About the time when 

» Lives of Gregory must be read with discretion. The best and most 
ample source of knowledge is the stout volume of his letters, but there 
are early biographies by Paul the Deacon and John the Deacon. Paul 
wrote about 780, but his fairly sober sketch — into which miracles have 
been interpolated — does not help us much. John wrote about a century 
after this, and his fantastic and utterly undiscriminating work is almost 
useless. The best biography of Gregory is the learned and generally 
candid work o£ W. F. H. Dudden (Gregory the Great, 2 vols., 1905). 

58 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Gregory came into the world (540), Cassiodorus was 
quitting it to found a monastic community on his estate, 
and he had the happy idea of rescuing some elements of 
Roman culture from the deluge ; though to him culture 
meant Donatus and Martianus Capella rather than the 
classics. He succeeded, too, in engaging the industry 
of the Benedictine monks, to some extent, in copying 
manuscripts. Culture was, happily, not suffered to die. 
In Rome, however, it sank very low, and, for centuries, 
the Latin of the Papal clerks or the Popes is generally 

Gregory, in 573, was Prefect of Rome when it was 
beset by the Lombards. The desolation which ensued 
may have finally convinced him that the end of the 
world approached: a belief which occurs repeatedly in 
his letters and sermons. In the following year, he sold 
his possessions, built six monasteries in Sicily, con- 
verted his Roman mansion into the monastery of St. 
Andrew, and, after giving tHe rest of his fortune to the 
poor, began a life of stem asceticism and meditation on 
the Scriptures. One day he saw some Anglo-Saxon 
slaves in the market, and he set off to convert these 
fair, blue-eyed islanders to the faith. But Pope Bene- 
dict recalled him and found an outlet for his great 
energy in secretarial duties at the Lateran. 

Pelagius, who in 578 succeeded Benedict, sent Gre- 
gory to Constantinople, to ask imperial troops for Italy, 
and he remained there, caring for Papal interests, for 
about eight years. On its pretentious culture he looked 
with so much disdain that he never learned Greek,' 
while the general corruption of clerics and laymen, and 
the fierce dogmatic discussions, did not modify his belief 
in a coming dissolution. He maintained his monastic 

ȣ/>., ix., 69. 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 59 

life in the Placidia Palace, and began the writing of that 
portentous commentary on the book of Job which is 
known as his Magna Moralia: a monimiental illustra- 
tion of his piety, his imagination, and his lack of culture, 
occupying about two thousand columns of Migne's 
quarto edition of his works. He returned to Rome 
about the year 586, without troops, but with the im- 
measurably greater treastire of an arm of St. Andrew 
and the head of St. Luke. Amid the plagues and fam- 
ines of Italy, he returned to his terrible fasts and dark 
meditations, and awaited the blast of the archangel's 
trumpet. An anecdote, told by himself, depicts his 
attitude. One of his monks appropriated a few crowns, ^ 
violating his vow of poverty. Gregory refused the dy- 
ing man the sacraments, and buried him in a dunghill, i 
He completed his commentary on Job, and collected 
endless stories of devils and angels, saints and sinners, 
visions and miracles ; until one day, in 590, the Romans 
broke into the austere monastery with the news that 
Pelagius was dead and Gregory was to be his successor. 
He fled from Rome in horror, but he was the ablest 
man in Italy, and all tmited to make him Pope. 

If these things do not suffice to show that Gregory 
was the first mediaeval Pope, read his Dialogues, com- 
pleted a few years later; no theologian in the world to- 
day would accept that phantasmagoria of devils and 
angels and miracles. It is a precious monument of 
Gregory's world: the early mediaeval world. There 
is the same morbid, brooding imagination in his com- 
mentary on the prophecies' of Ezekiel, which he found 
congenial ; and in many passages of the forty sermons 
in which, disdaining flowers of rhetoric and rules of 
grammar, he tells his people the deep-felt, awful truths 
of his creed. 

6o Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Characteristic also is the incident which occurred dur- 
ing his temporary guidance of the Church — ^while he 
awaited an answer to the letter in which he had begged 
the Emperor to release him. A fearful epidemic raged 
at Rome. Without a glance at the marshes beyond, 
from which it came, Gregory ordered processions of all 
the faithful, storming the heavens with hymns and 
litanies. The figure over the old tomb of Hadrian (or 
the Castle of Sant* Angelo) at Rome tells all time how 
an angel appeared in the sides on that occasion, and 
the pestilence ceased. But the writers who are nearest 
to the time tell us that eighty of the processionists 
fell dead on the streets in an hour, and the pestilence 
went its slow course. 

Yet when we turn from these other-worldly medita- 
tions and other-worldly plans to the eight hundred and 
fifty letters of the great Pope, we seem to find an entirely 
different man. We seem to go back some centuries, 
along that precarious line of the Anicii, and confront 
one of the abler of the old patricians. Instead of 
credulity, we find a business capacity which, in spite of 
the appalling means of commtmication, organizes and 
controls, down to minute details, an estate which is 
worth millions sterling and is scattered over half a 
continent. Instead of self-effacement, we find a man 
who talks to archbishops and governors of provinces 
as if they were acolytes of his Church, and, at least on 
one occasion, tells the Eastern autocrat, before whom 
courtiers shade their eyes, that he will not obey him. 
Instead of holy simplicity, we find a diplomacy which 
treats with hostile kings in defiance of the civil govern- 
ment, showers pretty compliments on the fiery Brun- 
ichildis or the brutal Phocas, and spends years in 
combating the pretensions of Constantinople. Instead 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 6i 

of angelic meekness, we find a warm resentment of 
vilification, an occasional flash of temper which cows his 
opponent, a sense of dignity which rebukes his steward 
for sending him **a sorry nag" or a "good ass" to ride 
on. We have, in short, a man whose shrewd light- 
brown eyes miss no opportimity for intervention in that 
disorderly world, from Angle-land to Jerusalem; who 
has in every part of it spies and informers in the service 
of virtue and religion, and who for fourteen years does 
the work of three men. And all the time he is Gregory 
the monk, ruining his body by disdainful treatment, 
writing commentaries on Ezekiel: a medium-sized, 
swarthy man, with large bald head and straggling tawny 
beard, with thick red lips and Roman nose and chin, 
racked by indigestion and then by gout — but a prodigi- 
ous worker. 

To compress his work into a chapter is impossible; 
one can only give imperfect summaries and a few sig- 
nificant details. He had secretaries, of course, and we 
are apt to forget that the art of shorthand writing, 
which was perfectly developed by the Romans, had not 
yet been lost in the night of the Middle Ages. Yet 
every letter has the stamp of Gregory's personality, and 
we recognize a mind of wonderful range and power. 

His episcopal work in Rome alone might have con- 
tented another man. Soon after his election he wrote 
a long letter on the duties and qualifications of a bishop, 
which, in the shape of a treatise entitled The Book 
of Pastoral Rule, inspired for centuries the better bishops 
of Europe. His palace was monastic in its severity. 
He discharged from his service, in Rome and abroad, 
the hosts of laymen his predecessors had employed, 
and replaced them with monks and clerics: incidentally 
turning into monks and clerics many men who did not 

62 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

adorn the holy state. He said mass daily, and used at 
times to go on horseback to some appointed chapel 
in the city, where the people gathered to hear his ser- 
mons on the gospels or on Ezekiel. Every shade of 
simony, every pretext for ordination, except religious 
zeal, he sternly suppressed. When he foimd that men 
were made deacons for their fine voices, he forbade 
deacons to sing any part of the mass except the Gospel, 
and he made other changes in the liturgy and encouraged 
the improvement of the chant. Modem criticism does 
not admit the Sacramentary and the Antiphonary which 
later ages ascribed to him, but he seems to have given 
such impulse to reform that the perfected liturgy and 
chant of a later date were attributed to him. ' 

His motive in these reforms was ptirely religious; 
those who would persuade us that Gregory I. had some 
regard for profane culture, at least as ancillary to re- 
ligious, forget his belief is an approaching dissolution, 
and overlook the natiu-e of profane culture. It was 
indissolubly connected vdth paganism, and Gregory 
would willingly have seen every Latin classic submerged 
in the Tiber; while his disdain of Greek confirmed the 
already prevalent ignorance which shut the Greek 
classics out of Europe, to its grave disadvantage, for 
many centuries. Happily, many monks and bishops 
were in this respect less unworldly than Gregory, and 
the greater Roman writers were copied and preserved. 
Gregory's attitude toward these men is well known. He 
hears that Bishop Desidcrius of Vienne, a very worthy 
prelate, is lecturing on *' grammar" (Latin literature),, 
and he writes to tell Desiderius that he is filled with 
"mourning and sorrow" that a bishop should be occu- 
pied with so "horrible" {itejandiim) a pursuit.* It has 

' See Dudden's Gregory the Great, i., 264-276. ' £p., vi., 54. 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 63 

been frivolously suggested that perhaps Desiderius 
had been lectiuing on the classics in church, but 
Gregory is quite plain : the reading of the pagan writers 
is an unfit occupation even for ''a religious layman. "* 
In the preface to his Magna Moralia he scorns "the 
rules of Donatus " ; and so sore a memory of his attitude 
remained among the friends of Latin letters that Chris- 
tian tradition charged him with having burned the 
libraries of the Capitol and of the Palatine and with 
having mutilated the statues and monuments of older 

The work of Gregory in Rome, however, was not 
confined to liturgy and discipline. The tradition of 
parasitism at Rome was not dead, and, as there was 
now no Prcefedus Annonce to distribute com to the 
citizens, it fell to the Church to feed them; and the 
Romans were now augmented by destitute refugees from 
all parts. Gregory had to find food and clothing for 
masses of people, to make constant grants to their 
churches and to the monasteries, to meet a periodical 
famine, and to render what miserable aid the ignorance 
of the time afforded diuing the periodical pestilence. 
Occasionally he had even to control the movements of 
troops and the dispatch of supplies; at least, in his 
impatience of the apparent helplessness of the imperial 
government and his determination to hold Catholic 

» Dr. H. A. Mann (The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle 
Ages, 1903, etc) would show that Gregory had a regard for culture 
by quoting much pfaise of secular learning from the Commentary on 
the First Book of Ximgs. This is not a work of Gregory at all. Even 
the Benedictine editors of the Migne edition claim only that it was 
written by an admirer who took notes of Gregory's homilies, and they 
admit that it frequently departs from Gregory's ideas. 

' See John of Salisbury, Polycraticus, ii., 26. It is difficult to con- 
ceive that so unflattering a tradition was entirely an invention. 

64 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

towns against the Lombards, he undertook these and 
other sectilar functions. 

The control of the vast Papal income and expendi- 
ture might alone have sufficed to employ a vigorous 
man. In Sicily, there were immense estates belonging 
to the Papacy, and other ** patrimonies, " as they were 
called, were scattered over Italy and the islands, or lay 
as far away as Gaul, Dalmatia, Africa, and the East. 
Clerical agents usually managed these estates, but we 
find Gregory talking about their mules and mares and 
cornfields, and the wages and grievances of their slaves 
and serfs, as familiarly as if he had visited each of them. 
It has been estimated, rather precariously, that the 
Papacy already owned from 1400 to 1800 square miles 
of land, and drew from it an annual income of from 
£300,000 to £400,000. Not a domestic squabble seems 
to have happened in this enormous field but Gregory 
intervened, and his rigid sense of justice and general 
shrewdness of decision command respect. Then, there 
was the equally heavy task of distributing the income, 
for the episcopal establishment cost little, and nothing 
was hoarded. In sums of ten, twenty, or fifty gold 
pieces, in bales of clothing and galleys of com, in altar- 
vessels and the ransom of captives, the stream per- 
colated yearly throughout the Christian world, as far 
as the villages of Syria. Monks and nuns were espe- 
cially favoured. 

Within a few years, there spread over the world so 
great a repute of Gregory's charity and equity that 
petitions rained upon Rome. Here a guild of soap- 
boilers asks his intervention in some dispute: there a 
woman who, in a fit of temper at the supposed in- 
fidelity of her husband, has rushed to a nunnery and 
now wants to return home, asks his indulgence, and 

Gregory- the Great, First Mivlixwil Pope ' 

re:r:ve3 it. From all iiiies are cries of opprc ; -;i', 
=;rr.:"v. or other scandal, and Gregory is an-zj ': 
Je-A-5 apC'^al to him frequently against the i^iu^■l:'.^■ 
their Chnr/iin neighbours, and they invariably ;«.■■, -.'j-. 
justice ;i; '-'i '.=.•'.■ aIlo'i\'s. The Zealots who hav<; v.-iz-; 
their 53—11: n-;-; - of long standing — they ki^t': ::■ 
biddii-r. zy '.--~ '.'. :-i!i rew ones) must restor'; '/v.-r 
or pay :'.r :''--r lt.^ a".;-?r.', priests who wo")'i ■.">-■". 
ther; ■—'.'. ■t^t"jl: lt^ r=Viked. There j'; o-'y -.-. 
weal-in^;: — 1 i; : uz-ir-ii-"^ ■sr%ine^i — in hi-. ■.'.■;■ 

to 7,1." 

he ^- " 

■ "a: v. I'rteC'.- 

^.ijwKvr-. be riion , 
•i"^ Iffovinct: w!i 
••'-vEta or iaiiur.. o 
' luiuersiooc tiia- 

^''«»-- liiai thea i 
^ world wLic: 

66 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

find reflected in Gregory's letters is fearfully corrupt. 
The restless movements and destructive ways of the 
barbarians had almost obliterated the older culture, 
and no new system either of education or polity had 
yet been devised. The influence of the East had been 
just as pernicious. The venality and corruption of its 
officers had infected the higher clergy, and simony pre- 
vailed from Gaul to Palestine. Over and over again 
Gregory writes, in just the same words, to prelates of 
widely separated countries: **I hear that no one can 
obtain orders in your province without paying for 
them." The clergy^ was thus tainted at its source. 
Ambitious laymen passed, almost at a bound, to 
bishoprics, and then maintained a luxurious or vicious 
life by extorting illegal fees. The people, who had 
been generally literate under the Romans, were now 
wholly illiterate and helpless. But Gregory has his 
informants (generally the agents in charge of the patri- 
monies) everywhere, and the better clergy and the 
oppressed and the disappointed appeal to him; and a 
sad procession of vice and crime passes before our eyes 
when we read his letters. This anarchic world needed 
a supreme court more than ever: the Papacy throve on 
its very disorders. 

Italy was demoralized by the settlement of the Arian 
Lombards over the greater part of the country, and 
by their murderous raids in all directions. Parts which 
remained Catholic were often so isolated from Rome 
that a spirit of defiance was encouraged, and Gregory 
had grave trouble. Milan, for instance, was in the 
hands of the Lombards, but the Catholic clergy had 
fled to Genoa with their archbishop, and they retained 
something of the independence of the Church of St. 
Ambrose. We see that they must now have their selec- 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 67 

tion of a bishop approved by Gregory, and that the 
Pope often quietly reproves the prelate for his indis- 
cretions; but we find also that when, on a more serious 
occasion, Gregory proposes to have Archbishop Con- 
stantius tried at Rome, the latter acridly refuses. 

Ravenna, the seat of the Eastern Exarch, who is gen- 
erally hostile to Gregory, occasions some of his least 
saintly letters. He hears that Archbishop John wears 
his pallium on forbidden occasions, and he reproves 
John with an air of tmquestioned authority.* John 
partly disputes the facts, and partly pleads special 
privileges of Ravenna, but Gregory finds no trace of 
such privileges and orders him to conform.^ Then he 
hears that John and the fine folk of the court are poking 
fun at him, and his honest anger overflows^: ''Thank 
God the Lombards are between me and the city of 
Ravenna, or I might have had to show how strict I can 
be. " John dies, and we see that the clergy of Ravenna 
must submit the names of two candidates to Gregory. 
He rejects the Exarch's man, and chooses an old fellow- 
monk and friend, Marinianus. But the new Archbishop 
is forced to maintain the defence of the supposed privi- 
leges of Ravenna, and the dispute seems to reach no 
conclusion during the life of Gregory. 

In the isolated peninsula of Istria, the spirit of 
independence has gone the length of flat defiance, or 
schism, because the Papacy has acquiesced in the 
endorsement by the Eastern bishops of the Three 
Chapters: three chapters of a certain decree of Justin- 
ian. The schism is of long standing, and when Gregory 
is made bishop he sends a troop of soldiers to the 
patriarch of Aquileia, commanding that prelate and 
his chief supporters to appear at Rome forthwith, 

"III., 56. »V., II. 'V., 15. 

68 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

" according to the orders of the most Christian and most 
Serene lord of all." The use of the Emperor's name 
seems to have been, to put it politely, not strictly 
accurate, for when Bishop Severus appealed to Maurice, 
the Emperor curtly ordered Gregory to desist. We 
have another indication of the mediaeval aspect of 
Gregory's ideas when, in the following year, he refused 
to contribute to the relief -fund for the victims of a great 
fire at Aquileia. His monies were **not for the enemies 
of the Chtu^ch," he said. He went on to weaken the 
schism by other means, partly by bribes, and when 
Maurice died in 602 and a friendly Exarch was ap- 
pointed, he at once urged physical force.' "The de- 
fence of the sotd is more precious in the sight of God 
than the defence of the body," he enacted. He was 
legislating for the Middle Ages. 

His relations with the Lombards and the civil power 
reveal another side of his character. Small Catholic 
towns, and even Rome, were constantly threatened by 
the Lombards, yet Constantinople was unable to send 
troops, and the Exarch remained inactive behind the 
marshes and walls of Ravenna. Gregory indignantly 
turned soldier and diplomatist. He appointed a mili- 
tary governor of Nepi, and later of Naples; and many 
of his letters are to military men, stirring them to action 
and telling of the dispatch of troops or supplies. In 
592, the Lombards appeared before Rome, and Gregory 
fell ill with work and anxiety. He then purchased a 
separate peace from the Lombards^ and there was 
great anger at Ravenna and Constantinople. Greg- 
ory's sentiment was hardly one of patriotism, which 
would not be consistent with his philosophy; he was 
concerned for religion, as he was bound to be since the 

» XIII., 33. » II., 46; v., 36. 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 69 

Lombards were Arians. On the other hand, he ac- 
knowledges that if he makes a separate peace with the 
Lombards, it will be disastrous for other parts of the 
Empire'; and it is clear from the sequel that the Exarch 
had a policy and was not idly drifting. 

A later legend, which some modem writers strangely 
regard as credible, ^ makes Gregory meet the Lombard 
king outside Rome, and strike a bargain. A bargain 
was certainly struck, but the angry Exarch issued from 
Ravenna with his troops and cut his way to Rome, 
where his conversation with the Pope cannot have been 
amiable. The Lombards were back in 593, but were 
either bribed, or found Rome too strong to be taken. 
They returned again in 595. Gregory now wrote to a 
friend in Ravenna^ that he proposed again to purchase 
peace, and the Emperor Maurice seems to have written 
him a scalding letter. From Gregory's indignant reply ^ 
we gather that Maurice called him '*a fool, " and hinted 
that he was a liar and traitor. The government idea 
evidently was that Gregory was a simple-minded victim 
of the ctmning Lombards, as is very probable; but we 
must take accotmt of his sincere concern for religion and 
his longing for peace. His policy of bribes would have 
been disastrous. At Ravenna, some person posted on 
the walls a sarcastic "libel" about his statesmanship, 
and another fiery letter appears in Gregory's register. 

In other parts of Italy, he had grave ecclesiastical 
abuses to correct, and some strange bishops are immor- 
talized in his letters. In 599, he had to issue a circular 
letter,* forbidding bishops to have women in their 

' v., 36. 

> It IS first found in the unreliable Continuer of Prospei-'s Chronicle^ 
and seems to be founded on the meeting of Leo and Attila. Neither 
Gregory nor Paul, the Deacon speaks of a meeting with the Lombard 
king. *V., 36. <V., 4a »rX.,iL 

70 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

houses, and ordering priests, deacons, and subdeacons 
to separate from their wives. Sicily, controlled by his 
agents, gave him little trouble, but his informers re- 
ported that in Sardinia and Corsica the clergy and 
monks were very corrupt, and the pagans, who were nu- 
merous, bribed the officials to overlook the practice of 
their cult. The metropolitan at Cagliari was an intem- 
perate and avaricious man, and Gregory, after repeated 
warnings, siunmoned him to Rome ; but there is a curious 
mixture of indulgence and sternness in the Pope's letters, 
and Januarius did not go to Rome or alter his wicked 
ways. As to the pagans, Gregory, at first, merely urged 
the Archbishop to raise the rents and taxes of those 
who would not abandon the gods. ' When this proved 
insufficient, he ordered physical persecution. If they 
were slaves, they were to be ptmished with ''blows and 
tortures"; if they were free tenants, they were to be 
imprisoned. ''In order," he says, in entirely mediaeval 
language, "that they who disdain to hear the saving 
words of health may at least be brought to the desired 
sanity of mind by torture of the body. "* 

With other provinces of the old Empire, his corre- 
spondence is mainly directed to the correction of grave 
abuses. His letters to Spain show that Papal authority 
was fully recognized there, and it is of interest to find 
a Spanish bishop bemoaning, when Gregory tu^ges that 
only literate men shall be promoted to the priesthood, 
that they are too few in ntunber. Africa virtually 
defied his efforts to reform the Church. The province 
had recovered a little under Byzantine rule, but its 
bishops and civic officials took bribes from the Dona- 
tists.^ They refused to persecute the schismatics, 
when Gregory ordered them to do so, and they defeated 

« IV., 26. • IX.. 65. » L, 84. 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 71 

his attempt to break up their system of local primacies.' 
He was compelled to leave them in their perverse ways. 
The same condition of simony and clerical laxity 
prevailed generally throughout the Roman-Teutonic 
world, and Gregory could do little more than press for 
the election of good men to vacant bishoprics. 

The diplomatic side of his character appears in his 
relations with Gaul, where the fiery and wilful Brtm- 
ichildis was his chief correspondent.' It is true that 
her graver crimes were committed after Gregory's 
death, but he was particularly well informed, and one 
cannot admire his references to her "devout mind" or 
appreciate his belief that she was ''filled with the piety 
of heavenly grace." When, in 599, she asked the 
pallium for her obsequious Bishop Syagrius of Autim, 
Gregory granted it: on condition that Syagrius con- 
voked a synod for the correction of abuses and that 
Brunichildis attacked paganism more vigorously. When, 
on the other hand, the learned and devout Bishop 
Desiderius of Vienne, who was hated by Brunichildis 
for his courage in rebuking her, asked the pallium, 
Gregory foimd that there was no precedent and refused. 
It is true that Bnmichildis was generous to the clergy 
and, in her way, pious; but Gregory must have known 
the real character of the woman whose influence he 
sought to win. His sacrifice, moreover, was futile. A 
few synods were held, but there is no trace of any 
diminution of simony, drunkenness, and vice among 
the Prankish priests and monks. 

His interest in the neighbouring island of Angle- 
land is well known. He began, early in his Pontificate, 
to buy Anglo-Saxon youths and train them for mission- 
ary work, but, in 596, he foimd a speedier way to 

■ I., 74- * See £/»., vii., 5, 50, 59 etc 

^2 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

convert the islanders. The all-powerful Ethelbert was 
married to the Christian Bertha, and Gregory's friendly 
relations with Gaul opened the way to his court. He 
sent the historic mission of monks under Augustine, and, 
in a few years, had the converted King transforming the 
pagan temples into churches and driving his people 
into them. It was Gregory who planned the first 
English hierarchy. 

The monks, who ought to have been Gregory's 
firmest allies in the reform of Christendom, had already 
become an ignorant and sensual body, sustaining the 
ideal of Benedict only in a few isolated commimities, 
and Gregory's efforts to improve them were not wholly 
judicious. He insisted that they should not tmdertake 
priestly or parochial work, and he forbade the bishops 
to interfere with their temporal concerns. There can 
be little doubt that this tendency to free them from 
episcopal control made for greater degeneration. Here 
again, also, we find a ciuious illustration of his diplo- 
matic liberality. As a rule he was very severe with 
apostate monks, yet we find him maintaining through 
life a friendly correspondence with a renegade monk of 
Syracuse. Venantius had returned to his position of 
wealthy noble in the world, and had married a noble 
dame. Gregory, it is true, urged him to return to his 
monastery, but the amiability of his language is only 
explained by the position and influence of the man. 
The last phase of this part of Gregory's correspondence 
is singular. Venantius died, and left his daughters to 
the guardianship of the Pope; and we find Gregory 
assuring these children of sin that he will discharge 
**the debt we owe to the goodness of your parents."' 

We have already seen that Gregory's relations with 

' XL, 35. 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 73 

the eastern Emperor were painful, and another episode 
must be related before we approach Eastern affairs 
more closely. The Archbishop of Salona, who was one 
of the typical lax prelates of the age and who had smiled 
at Gregory's admonitions and threats, was removed by 
death, and the Pope endeavoured to secure the election 
of the archdeacon, a rigorous priest who had been the 
Pope's chief informer. Neither clergy nor laity, how- 
ever, desired a change in the morals of the episcopal 
palace, and they secured from Constantinople an im- 
perial order for the election of their own favourite. 
Gregory alleged bribery and excommimicated the new 
archbishop. When the Emperor ordered him to 
desist, he flatly refused, and a compromise had to be 
admitted. In another town of the same frontier 
province, Prima Justiniana, the Emperor proposed 
to replace an invalid bishop with a more vigorous man, 
and Gregory refused to consent. ' 

A graver conflict had arisen in the East. Constanti- 
nople, with its million citizens and its superb imperial 
palace, naturally regarded its archbishop as too elevated 
to submit to Rome, and its ruling prelate, John the 
Faster, — a priest who rivalled Gregory in virtue and 
austerity, — assumed the title of '*Ectimenical Bishop." 
Gregory protested, but the Emperor Maurice, with his 
customary bluntness, ordered the Pope to be silent. 
A few years later, however, some aggrieved Eastern 
priests appealed to Rome, and Gregory wrote, in en- 
tirely Papal language, to ask John for a report on their 
case. When John lightly, or disdainfully, answered that 
he knew nothing about it, the Pope lost his temper. 
He told his ascetic brother that it would be a much less 
evil to eat meat than to tell lies: that he had better get 

* XI.. 47. 

74 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

rid of that licentious young secretary of his and attend 
to business: that he must at once take back the ag- 
grieved priests: and that, although he seeks no quarrel, 
he will not flinch if it is forced on him. ' John made a 
malicious retort, by inducing the Empress Constantina 
to make a request for relics which Gregory was bound 
to refuse. 

The priests were eventually tried at Rome. Whether 
Gregory's sentence was ever carried out in the East, we 
do not know, but John took the revenge of styling 
himself "Ecumenical Bishop" in his correspondence 
with Gregory, and the Pope then tried to form a league 
with the patriarchs of the apostolic Sees of Antioch and 
Alexandria against the ambitious John. In his eager- 
ness to defeat John, he went very near to sharing the 
Papacy with his allies. Peter, he said, had been at 
Antioch before Rome, and Mark was a disciple of Peter; 
therefore the three were in a sense "one See."^ He 
added that Rome was so far from aspiring to the odious 
title that, although it had actually been offered to the 
Popes by the Council of Chalcedon, neither Leo nor 
any of his successors had used it.^ 

To John himself Gregory sent a withering rebuke of 
his pride. To the Emperor Maurice he described John 
as "a wolf in sheep's clothing," a man who claimed a 
"blasphemous title" which ** ought to be far from the 
hearts of all Christians"! John may "stiffen his neck 
against the Almighty," he says, but "he will not bend 

'in., 53. 'V., 43. 

' It is not true that the Council offered the title to Leo I. It occurs 
only in petitions which two Eastern priests directed to the Pope and the 
Council (Mansi, vi., 1006 and 1012), and the Council, as we saw, decreed 
precisely the opposite. The only other place in which we find it in 
some form is the spurious Latin version of the sentence on Diosoorus 
to which I referred on p. 50. 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 75 

mine even with swords."' He assiired the Empress 
Constantina that John's ambition was a sure sign of 
the coming of Anti-Christ. ^ 

Gregory's peculiar diplomacy only excited the disdain 
of the subtler Greeks. His position is, in fact, so false 
— repudiating as "blasphemous" a title which, the 
whole world knew, he himself claimed in substance — 
that it has been suggested that he thought the term 
"Ecumenical Bishop" meant "sole bishop." Such 
a suggestion implies extraordinary ignorance at Rome, 
but there is no need to entertain it. To his friends 
Anastasius of Antioch and Eulogius of Alexandria, 
Gregory complained that the phrase was an affront, not 
to all bishops, but merely to the leading patriarchs, 
and the whole correspondence shows that there was no 
misunderstanding. Gregory lacked self-control. Anas- 
tasius of Antioch, though very friendly, ignored his 
letters; Eulogius advised him to be quiet, and hinted 
that people might suggest envy; the Emperor treated 
him with silent disdain. John died, but his successor 
Cyriacus actually used the offensive title in telling 
Gregory of his appointment. There was another out- 
burst, and Maurice impatiently begged the Pope not 
to make so much fuss about * * an idle name. ' ' Eulogius 
of Alexandria, who had some sense of humour, addressed 
Gregory as "Universal Pope," sajdng gravely that he 
would obey his "commands" and not again call any 
man "Universal Bishop." Possibly Eulogius knew 
that Gregory had, a few years before, written to John 
of Sjrracuse: "As to the Church of Constantinople, who 
doubts that it is subject to the Apostolic See?"^ 
Gregory protested in vain imtil the close of his life. 
The Greeks retained their " blasphemoua" title: the 

«V.,2a »V., 21. «IX., 12. 

76 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Latins continued to assert their authority even over 
the Greek bishops. 

Toward the close of the year 602, the Emi)eror 
Maurice, now a stricken old man of sixty-three, was 
driven from his throne by the brutal Phocas; his five 
boys were murdered before his eyes and he was himself 
executed. Phocas sent messengers to apprise Gregory 
of his accession. We may assume that these messengers 
would give a discreet account of what had happened 
and, possibly, bring an assurance of the new Emperor's 
orthodoxy; and we do not know whether Gregory's 
assiduous servants at Constantinople sent him any 
independent account. Yet, when we have made every 
possible allowance, Gregory's letters to Phocas are 
painful. The first letter* begins, ** Glory be to God on 
high," and sings a chant of victory culminating in, 
**Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad. " The 
bloody and unscrupulous adventurer must have been 
himself surprised. Two months later, Gregory wrote 
again, hailing the dawn of **the day of liberty" after 
the night of tyranny.^ In another letter he^ saluted 
Leontia, the new Empress, — a fit consort of Phocas, — as 
**a second Pulcheria"; and he commended the Church 
of St. Peter's to her generosity. These two letters were 
written seven months after the murders, and it is 
impossible to suppose that no independent report had 
reached Gregory by that time. Nor do we find that, 
though he lived for a year afterwards, he ever undid 
those lamentable letters. It is the most ominous 
presage of the Middle Ages. 

Gregory died on March 12, 604. The racking pains 
of gout had been added to his maladies, and plague and 
famine and Lombards continued to enfeeble Italy- 

"XIII., 31. > XIII., 38. »XIII.,39. 

Gregory the Great, First Mediaeval Pope 77 

He had striven heroically to secure respect for ideals — 
for religion, justice, and honour — in that dark worid on 
which his last thoughts lingered. He had planted many 
a good man in the bishoprics of Europe. He had 
immensely strengthened the Papacy, and a strong 
central power might do vast service in that anarchic 
Europe. Yet the historian must recognize that the 
worid was too strong even for his personality; simony 
and corruption still spread from Gaul to Africa, and 
the ideas which Gregory most surely contributed to the 
mind of Europe were those more lamentable or more 
casuistic deductions from his creed which we have 
noticed. Within a year or so — to make the best we can 
of a rumour which has got into the chronicles — the 
Romans themselves gnmibled that his prodigal charity 
had lessened their share of the patrimonies, and we saw 
that more bitter complaints against him were current 
in the Middle Ages. Yet he was a great Pope: not 
great in intellect, not perfect in character, but, in an 
age of confusion, corruption, and cowardice, a mighty 
protagonist of high ideals. 



TWO centuries after the death of Gregory the Great 
we still find an occasional prelate of rare piety, 
such as Alcuin, scanning the horizon for signs of the 
approaching dissolution. Vice and violence had so 
far triumphed that it seemed as if God must soon 
lower the curtain on the human tragedy. But the 
successors of Gregory in the chair of Peter were far 
from entertaining such feelings. From the heart of 
the threatening north, another Constantine had come 
to espouse their cause, to confound their enemies, and 
to invest the Papacy with a power that it had never 
known before. The story of the Popes as temporal 
sovereigns had begun. 

Once more we must say that the development was 
an almost inevitable issue of the circumstances. The 
Byzantine rule in Italy had never been strong enough 
to restrain the Lombards, and the rise of the Moham- 
medans in the farther East now made Constantinople 
less competent than ever to administer and to defend 
its trans-Adriatic province. First the city, then the 
duchy, of Rome fell under the care of the Popes, from 
sheer lack of other administrators and defenders. 
We saw this in the Pontificate of Gregory. Beyond 
the Roman duchy were the scattered patrimonies, the 


Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 79 

estates given or bequeathed to the Papacy, and these 
were often towns, or included towns. Here again the 
lack of secular authority put aU government in the 
hands of the Pope's agents. Then the Eastern court 
successively adopted two heresies, Monothelitism and 
Iconodasm, and the dwindling respect of Rome for 
the Greeks passed into bitter hostility. Imperial 
troops sacked the Lateran, dragged a Pope (Martin I.) 
ignominiously to the East, and induced another Pope 
(Honorius I.) to "subvert the immaculate faith" or, 
at least, to "allow the immaculate to be stained.**' 
On the whole, however, the PontiflFs who succeeded 
Gregory were firm and worthy men. Rome began to 
shudder between the fierce Lombard and the heretical 
Greek, and there slowly grew in the Lateran Palace 
the design of winning independence of the erratic 
counsels of kings. 

At this juncture, the name of Charles Martel blazed 
through the Christian worid, and Gregory III. and the 
people of Rome implored him to take them under his 
protection. The Lombards were, however, auxiliaries 
of Charles, and, as Duchesne suggests, Charles prob- 
ably resented Gregory's interference in secular affairs; 
the Pope had recently encouraged the Lombard dukes 
who were in rebellion against their king, and Liutprand 
had, in revenge, seized four frontier towns of the Roman 
duchy. Gregory failed, but his amiable and diplomatic 
successor, Pope Zachary, changed the Roman policy 
and made progress. He lent Liutprand the use of the 
little Papal army to aid in suppressing his dukes, and 
received the four towns and other "patrimonies." A 
little later, the Exarch and the Archbishop of Ravenna 

' So the successor of Honorius, Leo II., wrote to the Emperor. Ep,, 

8o Crises in the History of the Papacy 

asked Zachary to intercede for them, and the genial 
Pope again saw and disarmed the Lombard. The lan- 
guage of the Liber Pontificalis is, at this important 
stage, so barbarous — s, sad reflection of Roman culture, 
for it must have been written in the Lateran — that one 
often despairs of catching its exact meaning, but it 
seems to me clear that it represents Liutprand as 
giving the district of Cesena to the Papacy, and restor- 
ing the exarchate of Ravenna to the city of Ravenna. 
Presently, however, we shall find the Popes claiming 
the exarchate. 

The next step was the famous intervention of Rome 
in the affairs of the Franks. Pippin, Mayor of the 
Palace, aspired to the throne of Childeric III., and 
consulted the Papacy as to the moral aspect of his 
design. The astute PontiflF went far beyond the terms 
of the request, and ''ordered" the Franks to make 
Pippin their monarch : an act which f otmded the lucra- 
tive claim of Rome that she had conferred the kingdom 
on the father of Charlemagne. Zachary's successor, 
Stephen II.,' completed the work. He was hard 
pressed by the Lombard King Aistulph, and, after a 
fruitless appeal to Constantinople, he went to France 
in 753 and implored Pippin to '* take up the cause of the 
Blessed Peter and the Republic of the Romans." This 
broke the last link with the East, and Stephen secured 
the gratitude of Pippin and his dynasty by anointing 
the King and his sons and pronouncing a dire anathema 
— which he had assuredly no right to pronounce — on 
any who should ever dare to displace the family of 
Pippin from the throne. And so Pippin swore a mighty 
oath that he would take up the cause of the Blessed 

* Stephen I., who was chosen at the death of Zachary, died before 
consecration, and some historians decline to insert him in the series. 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 8i 

Peter, but what he precisely engaged to do is one of the 
great controversies of history. 

It is clear that Pippin was made ''Patrician" of 
Rome. This had long been the official title of the 
Byzantine Exarch in Italy, and it has no definite mean- 
ing when it is transferred to Pippin and Charlemagne. 
Probably this vagueness was part of the Roman plan. 
The Pope wanted Pippin's army without his suzerainty. 
Moreover, in conferring on Pippin the title which had 
belonged to the Exarch, it was probably implied that 
the exarchate became part of "the cause of the Blessed 
Peter." In point of fact, the Liber Pontificalis goes 
on to say that Pippin swore to win for Rome ''the 
exarchate of Ravenna " as well as other " rights and ter- 
ritories of the Republic." Later, in recording the life 
of Hadrian I., the Liber Pontificalis says that Stephen 
asked for "divers cities and territories of the province 
of Italy, and the grant of them to the Blessed Peter 
and his Vicars for ever." This part of the work is, 
it is true, under grave suspicion of interpolation, but 
the sentence I have quoted may pass. Pippin swore 
to secure for the Popes, not only the Roman duchy, 
and "divers cities and territories" which they claimed 
as "patrimonies," but also the exarchate of Ravenna, 
to which they had no right whatever. As Hadrian 
I. repeatedly refers, in his letters to Charlemagne, to 
this "Donation of Pippin," and in one letter (xcviii.) 
says that it was put into writing, it is idle to contest it. ' 

Pippin crossed the Alps and forced Aistulph to yield, 

* Pippin repeated his oath at Quiercey, and the baiigain is sometimes 
described as the "Quiercey Donation." The "Fantuzzian Fragment," 
an ancient document which professes to give the precise extent of the 
donation, is full of errors and anachronisms, and is not now trusted by 
any serious historian. 

82 Crises in the Hiiftor}' of the Papacy 

but as soon as the Franks returned to their country 
the Lombard refused to fulfil his obligations and again 
devastated Italy. No answer to the Pope's desperate 
appeals for aid came from France and, in 756, when 
Rome was gravely threatened, Stephen sent a very 
curious letter to Pippin. ' It is written in the name of 
St. Peter, and historians are divided in opinion as to 
whether or no the Pope wished to impose on the super- 
stition of the French monarch and to induce him to 
think that it was a miraculous appeal from the apostle 
himself. There is grave reason to think that this 
was Stephen's design. The letter does not identify the 
Pope with Peter, as apologists suggest; it speaks of 
Stephen as a personality distinct from the apostolic 
writer, insists that it is the disembodied spirit of Peter 
in heaven that addresses the King, and threatens him 
with eternal damnation unless he comes to Rome and 
saves "my body" and "my church" and "its bishop." 
As Pippin, who had ignored the Pope's appeals so long, 
at once hurried to Italy on receiving this letter, we may 
assimie that he regarded it as miraculous. However 
that may be, he crushed Aistulph and forced him to 
sign a deed abandoning twenty-three cities — ^the ex- 
archate, the adjacent Pentapolis, Comacchio, and Nami 
— to the Roman See. ' The representatives of the East- 
em court had hurried to Italy and had claimed this ter- 
ritory, but Pippin bluntly told them that he had taken 
the trouble to crush Aistulph only "on behalf of the 

« Ep., V. 

* This is sometimes called the "Donation of Aistulph," but is really 
the completed Donation of Pippin, On this point the Liber PorUificalis 
is confirmed by the Annals of Eginhard, in which we read that Pippin 
gave the Roman See "Ravenna and the Pentapolis and the whole ex- 
archate belonging to Ravenna" (year 756), and by the later letters 
of Hadrian I. 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 83 

Blessed Peter/* Byzantine rule in Italy was hence- 
forth confined to Calabria in the south arid Venetia 
and Istria in the north. The Pope succeeded the 
Eastern Emperor by right of gift from Pippin; and 
Pippin would, no doubt, claim that the provinces were 
his to give by right of the sword. In point of fact, 
however, the Papacy had claimed the exarchate on 
some previous title, and that title is unsound. 

We may now pass speedily to the Pontificate of 
Hadrian. Aistulph died in 756; Stephen III. in 757. 
The ten years' Pontificate of Paul I. was absorbed in a 
tiresome effort to wring the new rights of Rome from 
the new Lombard King, Didier, and the struggle led 
to the severance of the Romans into Frank and Lom- 
bard factions: one of the gravest and most enduring 
results of the secular policy of the Papacy. When 
Paul died, the Lombard faction, under two high Papal 
officials named Christopher and Sergius, led Lombard 
troops upon the opposing faction (who had elected a 
Pope), crushed them in a brutal and bloody struggle, 
and elected Stephen IV. Stephen was, however, not 
the Lombard King's candidate, and Didier intrigued 
at Rome against the power of Christopher and Sergius. 
He bribed the Papal chamberlain, Paul Afiarta, and 
it is enough to say that before long Christopher and 
Sergius were put in prison and deprived of their eyes. 
This was done at the Pope's command ; it was the price 
of the restoration by Didier of the cities he still withheld. ' 

« Writers who say merely that Stephen was " suspected of complicity " 
must have overlooked the testimony of Hadrian himself in the Liber 
PonHficalis, He tells the Lombard envoys that Stephen assured him 
that, on Didier promising to return the cities, the Pope "caused the eyes 
of Christopher and Sergius to be put out." Stephen's character is 
further illustrated by his letter to the sons of Pippin {Ep., iv.), when it 
was piopoeed that one of them should marry Didier's daughter Hermin- 

84 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Rome was still tinder the shadow of this brutal 
quarrel when, in the year 772, Hadrian became Pope. 
He came of a noble Roman family, and, having been 
left an orphan in tender years, he had been reared by a 
pious uncle. Culture at Rome in the eighth century 
had sunk to its lowest depth, and the letters of Hadrian, 
like all documents of the time, are full of the grossest 
grammatical errors. In the school of virtue and asceti- 
cism, however, he was a willing pupil. His fasts and 
his hair-shirt attracted attention in his youth, and he 
was so favourably known to all at the time of Stephen's 
death that he was at once and unanimously elected. 

Didier pressed for the new Pope's friendship. Char- 
lemagne had already tired of his daughter, or no longer 
needed her dowry (the Lombard alliance), and had 
ignominiously restored her to her father's court and 
ventured upon a third matrimonial experiment. We 
do not find Hadrian rebuking the Frank King, but he 
sent his chamberlain Afiarta to the Lombard court, 
to arrange for the restoration of the cities ceded to 
Rome and, presumably, form an alliance with Didier. 
While Afiarta was away, however, two things occurred 
which caused him to change his policy. Carlomann 
died in France, and his share of the kingdom was 
annexed by Charlemagne. Carlomann's widow then 
fled to the Lombard court, and Didier pressed Hadrian 
to anoint her sons in defiance of Charlemagne. When 
Hadrian hesitated, Didier invaded the Papal territory 
and took several towns; while Afiarta, the Pope heard, 

gard. They were both married, but the Pope says very little about the 
sin of divorce; it is the infamy of alliance with the Lombards which he 
chiefly denounces. In point of fact, Charlemagne divorced his wife 
and married Hermingard, and not a word further was heard from Rome 
about this or any other of his peculiar domestic arrangements. 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 85 

was boasting that he would bring Hadrian to Pavia 
with a rope round his neck. Meantime, however, 
Afiarta's rivals at Rome informed the Pope that Afi- 
arta had had the blind prisoner Sergius murdered, and 
Hadrian was shocked. He ordered the arrest of his 
chamberlain, and, in defiance of his more lenient instruc- 
tions, Afiarta was delivered to the secular authorities 
at Ravenna and executed. 

Didier now set his forces in motion. Hadrian, hur- 
riedly gathering his troops for the defence of the duchy, 
appealed to Charlemagne and threatened Didier with 
excommtmication. It seems also that he made efforts 
to secure other parts of Italy for the Papacy. Some 
professed representatives of Spoleto, which was subject 
to Didier, came to Rome to ask that their duchy might 
be incorporated in the Papal territory, and their long 
Lombard hair was solemnly cropped in Roman fashion. 
We shall find grave reason to doubt whether these men 
had an authentic right to represent Spoleto, but from 
that moment the Popes claimed it as part of their 
temporal dominion. Didier seems to have tmderrated 
the power of the yotmg French monarch. Both 
Hadrian and Charlemagne (who offered Didier 14,000 
gold solidi if he would yield the disputed cities) en- 
deavoured to negotiate peacefully with him, but he 
refused all overtures, and the Franks crossed the Alps 
and besieged him in Pavia. 

Charlemagne remained before Pavia throughout the 
winter of 773-774, and, when Holy Week came rotmd, 
he went to Rome for the celebration of Easter. Hadrian 
hurriedly arranged to meet his guest with honour, 
though the account of his ceremonies makes us smile 
when we recall how imperial Rome would have received 
such a monarch. Thirty miles from Rome the civic 

86 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

and military officials, with the standards of the Roman 
militia, met the conqueror; a mile from the dty the 
various "schools" of the militia, and groups of children 
with branches of palm and olive, streamed out to meet 
the Franks, and accompanied them to St. Peter's. 
The awe with which Chariemagne approached the old 
capital of the world, and the feeling of the Romans 
when they gazed on the gigantic young Frank, in his 
short silver-bordered tunic and blue cloak, with a shower 
of golden curls falling over his broad shoulders, are 
left to our imagination by the chronicler.' His one 
aim is to show how the famous donation of temporal 
power was the natural culmination of the piety of the 
Frankish monarch. He tells us how Charlemagne 
walked on foot the last mile to St. Peter's: how, when 
he reached the great church on Holy Saturday, he 
went on his knees and kissed each step before he em- 
braced the delighted Pope: how Frank bishops and 
warriors mingled with the Romans, and how the vast 
crowd was thrilled by the emotions of that historic 
occasion. He describes how Charlemagne humbly 
asked permission to enter Rome, and spent three days 
in paying reverence at its many shrines; and how, on 
the Wednesday, Pope and King met in the presence of 
the body of Peter to discuss the question of the Papal 

In a famous passage, which has inspired a small 
library of controversial writing, this writer of the life 
of Hadrian in the Liber Pontificalis affirms that Char- 
lemagne assigned to St. Peter and his successors for 
ever the greater part of Italy: in modem terms, the 
whole of Italy except Lombardy in the north, which 
was left to the Lombards, and Naples and Calabria in 

' The visit is described very fully in the Liber Pontificalis. 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 87 

the south, where the Greeks still lingered. The duchies 
of Beneventiun and Spoleto, the provinces of Venetia 
and Istria, and the island of Corsica, which were not 
at the disi)osal of Charlemagne, are expressly included ; 
and it is said that one copy of the deed, signed by 
Charlemagne and his nobles and bishops, was put into 
the tomb of St. Peter, and another copy was taken to 
France. This is the basis of the claim of later Popes 
to the greater part of Italy. 

But the suspicions of historians are naturally awak- 
ened when they leam that both copies of this priceless 
dociunent have disappeared : that the only description 
of its terms is this passage of the Liber Pontificalis, 
which was presumably written in the Papal chancellery : 
and that the art of forging docimients was extensively 
cultivated in the eighth century. The famous ''Dona- 
tion of Constantine," a dociunent which makes the 
first Christian Emperor, when he leaves Rome, entrust 
the whole Western Empire to Pope Silvester, is a 
flagrant forgery of the time; indeed, most historians 
now conclude that it was fabricated at Rome during 
the Pontificate of Hadrian. Certainly the Pope seems 
to refer to it when, in 777, he writes to Charlemagne: 
*'Just as in the time of the Blessed Silvester, Bishop 
of Rome, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman 
Church was elevated and exalted by the most pious 
Emperor Constantine the Great, of holy memory, and 
he deigned to bestow on it power in these western 

* Ep., be Some writers hold that this is merely an allttsion to the 
Ada S, SUvestri, another forgery of the time, but the words which I 
have italicized point more clearly to the "Donation of Constantine." 
For the literature of the controversy see Dr. A. Solmi's Staio e Chiesa 
(1901), pp. 12-13. It is now the general belief that the "Donation" 
was fabricated at Rome, and probably in the Lateran, between 750 and 

88 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

The equally mendacious Acta S. SUvestri was cer- 
tainly known to Hadrian, and we do not trace it earlier; 
and it is probable enough that one or both of these 
documents were shown to Charlemagne. Some histo- 
rians believe that the ''Fantuzzian Fragment" (a simi- 
larly false account of the Donation of Pippin) belongs 
to the same inventive period, and this is not unlikely. 

It cannot be questioned that Charlemagne renewed 
and enlarged his father's donation, since Hadrian's 
letters to him repeatedly affirm this. Immediately 
after his return toVrance, Hadrian reminds him that 
he has confirmed Pippin's gift of the exarchate,' and, 
a little later, he recalls that, when he was in Rome, he 
granted the duchy of Spoleto to the Blessed Peter.* 
Spoleto did not, in point of fact, pass under Papal 
rule, but we must conclude from the Pope's words 
that Charlemagne in some way approved the action 
of Hadrian in annexing the duchy, and in this sense 
enlarged the donation made by his father. Beyond 
this single instance of Spoleto, however, the letters of 
Hadrian do not confirm the writer of his life in the 
Liber Pontificalis in his description of the extent of 
Charlemagne's gift, ^ and their silence supports the criti- 

781. Dr. Hodgkin {Italy and her Invaders ^ vi.) has charitably suggested 
that perhaps the document was playfully composed by some P&pal 
clerk in his leisure hours and taken seriously by a later generation, but 
apologists do not seem to grasp at this straw. 

' £/>., lii. « Ep,, IviL 

* Dr. Mann (vol. i., part ii., p. 423) finds some confirmation in "a 
passage of Hadrian's letter to Constantine and Irene, read in the second 
session of the Seventh General Council." This part of Hadrian's letter 
was not read in the Council. It is not included in the letter in the 
Migne edition (vol. xcvi.), and in Mansi (xii., 1072) it is explained that 
the latter part of Hadrian's letter, in which the passage occurs, was 
not read to the Greeks. In any case, the passage merely affirms that 
Charlemagne gave the Roman See "provinces and cities and other 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 89 

cal view. While he complains of outrages in Istria and 
Venetia, while he occupies himself in a long series of 
letters with the aflFairs of Beneventum, he makes no 
claim that these provinces were given to him by Charle- 
magne. The whole story of the Papacy during the 
life of Charlemagne is inconsistent with any but the 
more modest estimate of the donation: that it was a 
vague sanction of the Spoletan proceeding, in addition 
to confirming the Donation of Pippin. 

The learned editor of the Liber Pontificalis^ Duchesne, 
is convinced that the first part of the life of Hadrian, 
which culminates in this donation, was written by a 
contemporary cleric and must be regarded as genuine. 
He suggests that, when Hadrian perceived the imprac- 
ticability of Charlemagne winning two thirds of Italy 
for the Roman See, he released the monarch from his 
oath. This is inconsistent alike with the character of 
Hadrian and the terms of his correspondence, and 
recent historians generally regard the range ascribed 
to Charlemagne's donation in the Liber Pontificalis as 
either fictitious or enlarged by later interpolations. 
The first part of Duchesne's study — the proof that the 
early chapters of the life of Hadrian were written by 
a contemporary — is convincing: the second part — that 
the Pope sacrificed five or six great provinces because 
it was diflScult at the time to get them — ^has not even 
the most feeble docimientary basis and is tmlikely in 
the last degree, to judge by the known facts. Either 
some later writer during the Pontificate of Leo III. 

territories," and this is quite consistent with tne more modest esti- 
mate of his donation. A letter written by Leo III. to Charlemagne 
thirty years afterwards (when the Papal description of the donation 
certainly existed), speaking of his gift of the island of Corsica, is not 

90 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

(or later) rounded the narrative of the early years of 
Hadrian with this grandiose forgery, or the passage 
which specifies the extent of the donation was inter- 
polated in the narrative. For either supposition we 
have ample analogy in the life of the eighth century: 
for a Papal surrender of whole provinces we have no 
analogy whatever, and there is not the faintest al- 
lusion to it in Hadrian's forty-five extant letters to 
Charlemagne. ' 

The life of Hadrian in the Liber Pontificalis consists, 
as will already have been realized, of two very distinct 
parts. The first is a consecutive and circiunstantial 
narrative of events up to the departure of Charlemagne 
from Rome in the spring of 774. This seems to have 
been written by an eye-witness, possibly a clerk in the 
Papal service; and it seems equally probable that this 
contemporary narrative was rotmded by a later hand 
with a fictitious account of Charlemagne's conduct 
on the Wednesday. Immediately afterwards, Charle- 
magne returned to Pavia, conquered Didier, and carried 
him off to a French monastery. This occurred in the 
second year of Hadrian's Pontificate, yet in the Liber 
Pontificalis f the remaining twenty years are crushed 
into a few chaotic paragraphs, and these are chiefly 

' See the dissertation appended to vol. vi. of Dr. Hodgkin's Italy 
and her Invaders, where the author contends that a late writer tised the 
contemporary account of Hadrian's early years to lead up to this ficti- 
tious donation. The h3rpothesis of interpolation in a genuine narrative 
is urged by Dr. W. Martens in his Die Rdmische Frage (1881) and Be- 
leuchtung der neuesien Controversen uber die R. Frage (1898). Professor 
Th. Lindner (Die sogenannten Schenkungen Pippins, Karls des Grossen, 
und Otto's I. an die Pdpste, 1896) suggests that Charlemagne intended 
only to secure the patrimonies in the provinces named in the donation, 
but this is not consistent with the language of the Liber Pontificalis, 
though it may very well represent the actual intention of Charlemagne. 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 91 

concerned with his lavish decoration of the Roman 
churches. We turn to his letters, and from these we 
can construct a satisfactory narrative and can obtain 
a good idea of the writer's personality. 

Of the fifty-five extant letters of Hadrian no less 
than forty-five are addressed to Charlemagne, and they 
are overwhelmingly concerned with his temporal pos- 
sessions. He is rather a King-Pope than a Pope-King. 
For twenty years he assails Charlemagne with queru- 
lous, petulant, or violent petitions to protect the rights 
of the Blessed Peter, and it is not illiberally suspected 
that the lost replies of Charlemagne contained expres- 
sions of impatience. The Pope's letters, with their 
imceasing references to the Blessed Peter and all that 
he has done for Charlemagne, are not pleasant reading, 
and the Frank King, whose Italian policy seems to 
baffle his biographers, must have realized that his 
position as suzerain of the Blessed Peter was delicate 
and difficult. Hadrian on the other hand, fotmd that 
the temporal rights of his See left comparatively little 
time for spiritual duties and laid a strain on his piety. 
Once in a few years he smites a heretic or arraigns 
some delinquent prelate, but the almost unvarying 
theme of his letters is a complaint that the Blessed 
Peter is defrauded* of his rights, and he is at times 
drawn into political intrigues which do not adorn his 
character. We may recognize that his ambition was 
as impersonal as that of Gregory the Great, yet the 
spectacle of his plaints and manoeuvres is not one on 
which we can dwell with admiration. 

Charlemagne had scarcely returned to France when 
he received from Hadrian a bitter complaint that Leo, 
Archbishop of Ravenna, had seized the cities of the 
exarchate and was endeavouring to win those of the 

92 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Pentapolis.' Charlemagne did not respond; indeed 
Leo went in person to the Frank court, and it is signifi- 
cant that after his return he was, Hadrian says, more 
insolent and ambitious than ever. He cast out the 
officials sent from Rome and, by the aid of his troops, 
took over the rule of the exarchate. Charlemagne 
was busy with his Saxon war, and he paid no attention 
to the Pope's piteous appeals.^ Leo died in 777, 
however, and his successor seems to have submitted 
to Rome. Charlemagne had meantime visited Italy 
and may have intervened. 

The business which brought Charlemagne to Italy 
in 776 was more serious. Arichis, Duke of Beneventimi, 
one of the ablest and most cultivated of the Lombards, 
who was married to a daughter of Didier, was an in- 
dependent sovereign. Hildeprand, Duke of Spoleto, 
who had — ^in spite of the supposed annexation of Spo- 
leto — chosen to regard Charlemagne rather than Hadrian 
as his suzerain, was on good terms with Arichis, and the 
Pope looked on their friendship with gloomy suspicion. 
He reported to Charlemagne that they were conspir- 
ing against his authority. Charlemagne's envoys were 
due at Rome, and Hadrian bitterly complained to him 
that they had gone first to Spoleto and had "greatly 
increased the insolence of the Spoletans," and had then, 
in spite of all the Pope's protests, proceeded to Bene- 
ventum.3 It is clear that there was in Italy a strong 
feeling against the Papal expansion, and that the 
occasional appeals for incorporation in the Roman 
territory came from clerics. Spoleto remained inde- 
pendent, in spite of Hadrian's claim that it had been 
promised to him; in fact, it was clearly the policy of 
Charlemagne to leave these matters to local option, 

' £/>., lii. ■ £/>., liii., liv., Iv. * Ep., IviL 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 93 

and he can scarcely have made a definite promise to 
include Spoleto in his "donation.** 

In the following year, Hadrian sent more alarming 
news. Adelchis, a son of Didier, had fled to the Greeks 
and was pressing them to assist in overthrowing the 
•Frank-Roman system. Hadrian said that Arichis 
and Hildeprand, as well as Hrodgaud of Friuli and 
Reginald of Clusium, had conspired with the Greeks, 
and he implored the King "by the living God" to come 
at once. Chariemagne came, and chastised Hrodgaud, 
but he does not seem to have found serious grotmd for 
the charges against the Dukes of Spoleto and Beneven- 
tum. Presently, however, Hadrian was able to an- 
notmce more definitely a conspiracy against his rule; 
the Beneventans and Greeks had captured some of 
his Campanian towns, and Tassilo, Duke of Bavaria 
(son-in-law of Didier), had joined them. It is true that 
Charlemagne was, at the time, busy in Saxony, but 
it is equally clear that he was angry with the Pope and 
resented his efforts to secure the two duchies. In 777, 
Hadrian wrote that he rejoiced to hear that Charie- 
magne was at length coming; he sent him a long list, 
from the Roman archives, of all the territories to which 
Rome laid claim, and invited the Frank to be a second 
Constantine. ' But Chariemagne came not, and in his 
next letter Hadrian has to lament that the Frank has 
committed the " tmprecedented act*' of arresting the 
Papal Legate for insolence, and the Lombards are 
openly exulting in his himiiliation.^ 

There seems then to have been a long period without 
correspondence between the two courts, or else it has 
not been thought judicious to preserve the letters. 
In 781, however, Charlemagne came to Rome. Tassilo 

« Ep., Ix. • Ep., bdi. 

94 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

was disarmed, and, as Charlemagne's daughter was 
betrothed to the son of the Eastern Empress Irene, 
the Greeks must have been pacified. The six years of 
peace which followed were, no doubt, used by Hadrian 
in that princely decoration of the Roman churches of 
which I will speak later and in some attention to eccle- 
siastical affairs. We find him writing, in 785, to the 
bishops of Spain; though he seems to have had little 
influence on the Spanish heresy which he denoimced, 
and it was left to the more vigorous attacks of Charle- 
magne.' In 786 he extended his pastoral care to 
England, which had not seen a Roman envoy since the 
days of Gregory. His Legates were received with hon- 
our, but they reported that the English Church was in 
a deplorable condition.^ King Offa made a princely 
gift for the maintenance of lamps in St. Peter's (a 
euphemism of the Roman court) and for the poor, and 
it is curious to read that Hadrian consented, at the 
King's request, to make Lichfield a metropolitan see. 

The peace was broken in 787 by an active alliance of 
Arichis, Tassilo, and the Greeks, and Charlemagne again 
set out for Italy. Arichis was forced to pay the Pranks 
a heavy annual tribute and give his sons as hostages. 
The elder son and Arichis himself died soon afterwards, 
and Hadrian again made lamentable efforts to secure 
the duchy. The accomplished widow of Arichis, 
Adelperga, besought Chariemagne to bestow it on her 
younger son, Romwald, and Hadrian begged him not 
to comply. He trusted Charlemagne would not sus- 
pect him of coveting the duchy himself^; but he re- 

' Ep., Ixxxiii. 

' See the interesting letter of Bishop George, one of Hadrian's Legates, 
in Jaflfe's Bibliotheca Rerum Germanicarum, vi., 155, and compare The 
Saxon Chronicle, > Ep,, xc. 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 95 

frained from suggesting an alternative to the son of 
Arichis, and at length he boldly warned Charlemagne 
not to "prefer Romwald to the Blessed Peter."' 
Other indications of the building of the temporal power 
are not more edifying. We read that representative 
inhabitants of Capua and other Beneventan cities 
have sought incorporation in the Roman "republic"; 
and then we read that the cities have been handed over 
to the Papacy without inhabitants — a clear sign of the 
wishes of the majority — and that Romwald is asstuing 
his subjects, on the authority of Charlemagne, that 
they need not pass under the authority of Rome tmless 
they will. 

Charlemagne again ignored the Pope's efforts, and 
soon had the Spoletan and Beneventan troops co- 
operating with his own against the Greeks. Hadrian 
obtained no control over Spoleto and Beneventum, and 
the fact that he does not charge Charlemagne with 
failing to keep faith with the Blessed Peter casts fur- 
ther discredit on the supposed donation. In Venetia 
and Istria he had no influence whatever, and his agents 
were barbarously treated.' Corsica never enters his 
correspondence. His power was confined to the Roman 
duchy, the exarchate, and the Pentapolis; and even 
there it was much assailed. It is true that in an hour 
of resolution he forbade Charlemagne to interfere in an 
ecclesiastical election at Ravenna, and it was as master 
of Ravenna that he gave Charlemagne the marbles 
and mosaics of the old palace. But he complained 
bitterly that Charlemagne listened to his critics in 
Ravenna,' and he had repeatedly to appeal to Frank 
authority to enforce his sentences. To the end his 
letters to Charlemagne were querulous and exacting. 

' Ep,, xdiL ' Ep., IzxziL > Ep,, zcviii. 

96 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

A few years before his death he heard that Offa of 
England was proposing to Charlemagne to depose him, 
and he protested, with more petulance than dignity, 
that he had been elected, not by men, but by Jesus 
Christ. ' 

This demoralizing concern for his temporal rights 
seems to have warped Hadrian's religious temperament 
and to have left him little time for purely spiritual 
duties. A single lengthy letter to Spain and a legation 
to England are all that we have as yet related, and there 
is little to add. His third exercise of jurisdiction was 
unfortunate. Irene had restored the worship of images 
in the East and was eager for a reconciliation with 
Western Christendom. She invited Hadrian to preside 
at an Ectmienical Council. His reply was admirable 
in doctrinal respects, but he annoyed the Greeks by at 
once claiming all his patrimonies in the East and pro- 
testing against the title used by Archbishop Tarasius. 
They retorted by suppressing part of his letter to the 
Council of Nicaea (787), at which his Legates presided, 
and ignored both his requests. 

This, however, was only the beginning of fresh and 
grave trouble with Charlemagne. The Greeks had an- 
noyed him by cancelling the betrothal of Constantine 
with his daughter Rotrud, and there is reason to suspect 
that he already contemplated assuming the title of 
Emperor. There was, at all events, a sore feeling in 
France, and when the findings of the Council of Nicasa 
reached that country, they were treated with disdain 
and insult. Hadrian had, in his annoyance with the 
Greeks, refused to give a formal sanction to their 
findings, but he had so far accepted them as to issue 
from the Papal chancellery a Latin translation of the acta 

« £/>., xcvi. 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 97 

of the Council. We can readily believe that the trans- 
lation would be crude and inaccurate, but the 
quarrel was not based on these fine shades of meaning. 
The French conception of the use of images differed 
not only from that of the Greeks, but from that of 
Hadrian. The northern prelates held that images 
were to be regarded only as ornaments and as re- 
minders of the saints they represented. In this sense 
Charlemagne issued, in his own name (though we 
justly suspect the authorship of Alcuin), the large 
work which is commonly known as The Caroline Books. 
It scathingly attacked the Greek canons which had 
been accepted by the Pope ; it took no notice of Hadrian's 
doctrinal letter to the Council; and, in defiance of the 
familiar Roman custom, it denounced as sinful the 
practice of burning lights before statues or paying 
them any kind or degree of worship. It contained 
assurances of its loyalty to the Apostolic See, but 
Hadrian must have felt, when at length some version 
or other of the work was sent to him (three or four 
years after its publication), that it was an outrage on 
his spiritual authority. But the book bore the name 
of Charlemagne, and in his lengthy reply Hadrian 
prudently concealed his annoyance.' In the same 
year (794) the Frank bishops held a synod at Frankfort 
and resolutely maintained their position. Whether 
this S3mod followed or preceded Hadrian's letter we 
cannot say, but the Franks continued for years to 
reject the Roman doctrine.* 

' Migne, voL xcviiL, col. 1247. 

* Alcuin afterwards wrote a very abject letter to the Pope (E^., xviii.), 
and this is sometimes represented as an expression of regret, but he 
does not mention the image-question and plainly refers to his general 
unworthiness. The Pranks were convinced that the Pope was wrong. 
See the Ada of the Fiankfort Council in Mansi, xiiL, 864. 

98 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Hadrian's biographer discreetly ignores these failures 
of his attempts to assert his authority, and almost 
confines himself to the record of his work in Rome it- 
self. He restored and extended the walls, and added 
no less than four hundred towers to their defences. He 
repaired four aqueducts, and rebuilt, on a grander 
scale, the colonnade which ran from the Tiber to St. 
Peter's. The interior of St. Peter's he decorated with 
a splendour that must have seemed to the degenerate 
Romans imperial. The choir was adorned with silver- 
plated doors, and, in part, a silver pavement; while 
a great silver chandelier, of 1345 lights, was suspended 
from its ceiling. Large statues of gold and silver 
were placed on the altars, and the walls were enriched 
with purple hangings and mosaics. Vestments of 
the finest silk, shining with gold and precious stones, 
were provided for the clergy. To other churches, 
also, Hadrian made liberal gifts of gold and silver 
statues, Tyrian curtains, gorgeous vestments, and 
mosaics. The long hostility to images and image- 
makers in the East had driven large numbers of Greek 
artists to Italy, and the vast sums which the new 
temporal dominions sent to Rome enabled Hadrian to 
employ them. After a long and profound degenera- 
tion *'the fine arts began slowly to revive."^ For 
literary culture, however, Hadrian did nothing; the 
attempt of some writers to associate him with Charle- 
magne's efforts to relieve the gross illiteracy of Europe 
is without foundation. 

In charity, too, the Pope was distinguished. He 
founded new deaconries for the care of the poor, and 

' R. Cattaneo, Architecture in Italy from the Sixth to the Eleifenth 
Century (1896). 

Hadrian I. and the Temporal Power 99 

at times of flood and fire he was one of the first to visit 
and relieve the sufferers. But both his artistic and 
his philanthropic work was almost restricted to Rome. 
He added a few farms to those which his predecessors 
had planted on the desolate Campagna, but the great 
and increasing resources of the Papacy were chiefly 
used in laying the foundations of the material splendour 
which would one day daze the eyes of Europe, and in 
paying soldiers to protect it against his political rivals. 
It must be added that he was one of the early founders 
of the Roman tradition of nepotism. He appointed 
his nephew Paschalis to one of the chief Papal oflBces, 
and the brutality of the man, which will appear pre- 
sently, shows that the promotion was not made on the 
grotmd of merit. 

His long Pontificate came to an end on December 
25th (or 26th) in the year 795, and it is an indication 
of the new position of the Papacy that his successor 
at once sent to Charlemagne the keys of Rome and of 
the tomb of St. Peter. We have the assurance of 
Eginhard that the Prank monarch wept as one weeps 
who has lost a dear son or brother, and he afterwards 
sent to Rome a most honouring epitaph of Hadrian, 
cut in gold letters on black marble. The character of 
Charlemagne and his inmost attitude toward the new 
Papacy he had created do not seem to me to be suflfi- 
ciently elucidated by any of his biographers, but with 
that we are not concerned. He had deep regard for 
Hadrian, in spite of the Pope's failings. The new royal 
state was too heavy a burden for Hadrian I. to bear 
with dignity. One cannot doubt the sincerity of his 
religion, his humanity, and his impersonal devotion 
to what he conceived to be his duty. But it is equally 
plain that in the first Pope-King the cares of earthly 


100 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

dominion enfeebled the sense of spiritual duty and at 
times warped his character. It needed a great man 
to pass without scathe through such a transformation. 
Hadrian I. was not a great man. 



THE coronation of Charlemagne by the Pope in the 
year 800 was also the crowning of the new Papal 
system. The ambition for temporal power had al- 
ready disclosed the grave dangers which it brought. 
Soon after the death of Hadrian I. the horrible spectacle 
was witnessed at Rome of high Papal oflScials — one a 
nephew of the late Pope — attempting, on the floor of a 
church, to cut out the eyes of their Pontiff; and the 
record tells us that the Jlomans were so little moved 
by the charges brought against him that they left it 
to a provincial noble to rescue Leo III. Grave charges 
were also made against his successor, Stephen V., and 
Charlemagne came to Rome to judge him. He politely 
acquitted Stephen, and, on that historic Christmas 
morning of the year 800, he was surprised and discon- 
certed by the Pope suddenly producing an imperial 
crown and placing it on his head. 

It is well known that Charlemagne regarded this 
coronation with distrust. The gifts of the Blessed 
Peter had a way of conferring more power on the giver 
than on the receiver. In point of fact, when the strong 
hand of the first Emperor was removed, and a brood of 
weaker men came to squabble over the imperial heri- 
tage, Rome gained considerably. The kingdoms of 


102 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

France, Germany, and Italy were carved out of the 
Empire, but the spiritual realm was not exposed to any 
hereditary division. It merely awaited the coming of 
another strong man to make clear its power, and this 
revelation was reserved for Nicholas I. Of the eight 
Popes who preceded him, only one, Leo IV., made a 
reputable mark on history, and that rather as a strong 
and honest than as a spiritual personality. Most of 
them were, like most of the Popes, men of mediocre 
but respectable character. There is, however, some 
degeneration in the Papal calendar — ^which is, until 
the end of the ninth century, a more edifying record 
than many imagine— since two out of the eight remain 
under suspicion of grave misconduct, and one was a 
gouty gourmand; while occasional outbreaks of a vio- 
lence not far removed from barbarism betray that the 
new prosperity is not elevating the character of the 

Nicholas, whose life in the Liber PatUificalis was 
probably written by his accomplished librarian Anastas- 
ius, was the son of a cultivated Roman notary, and 
was carefully trained in letters. These ofiScial pane- 
gyrics will not, however, impress the serious historian. 
The Pope's letters show that the extent of his profane 
culture was merely a stricter observance of the ele- 
mentary niles of grammar than some of his predecessors 
had displayed. In 853, a few years before Nicholas 
began his Pontificate, Leo IV. had ordered the opening 
of schools in each of the twenty parishes of Rome, but 
he complained that teachers of the liberal arts were rare. 
The instruction given was mainly religious, and it 
seems that on the ecclesiastical side the Pope's culture 
was considerable. He had grown up in the devout 
service of the Church, and successive Popes had pro- 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 103 

moted and loved him; so that, when Benedict III. 
died, Nicholas was unanimously chosen to succeed him. 
In the presence of the Emperor, Louis II., Nicholas, 
who had to be dragged from a hiding-place in St. 
Peter's, was, on Stmday, April 24th, consecrated and 
conducted by joyous crowds along the laurel-crowned 
streets to the Lateran. Two days afterwards the 
Emperor entertained him at dinner, and they were 
very cordial. When Louis set out for France, Nicholas 
followed and had another festive dinner with him at his 
first camp. Then the Pope, after kissing and embra- 
cing the Emperor, returned to the Lateran and gravely 
motmted the Papal throne. 

Within the next few years men learned that a new 
type of Pontiff ruled the Church, or the world. Nicho- 
las I. conceived himself, in deepest sincerity, to be the 
representative of God on earth: fancied himself sitting 
on a throne so elevated that from its level all men — 
kings and beggars, patriarchs and monks — were of the 
same size. He believed that he was responsible to 
God for every inmioral or irreligious movement in 
"every part of the world," as he often said. He was 
convinced that his words were ''divinely inspired,"' and 
that disobedience to him was disobedience to God. 
He was, by divine appointment, ''prince over all the 
earth." * Kings received their swords from him,* and 
were as humbly subject as their serfs were to his moral 
and religious authority. The most powerful prelates 
must obey his orders at once or be deposed.^ Not a 
council must be held in Europe without his approval *: 
not a church must be built "without the commands of 

' Ep., IzxxiiL, xciL, and cviii. * Ep,, Izv. 

s Ep., hoax. 4 Ep.t vL « Ep., idL 

104 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the Pope**': not a book of any importance must be 
published without his authorization.^ Nicholas was 
conscientious in small duties: he kept lists of the blind 
and ailing poor to whom food had to be sent. But his 
great feature was his treatment of the mighty. He 
lived on a cloud-wrapt height, sending out the thun- 
ders of excommunication, on gentle and simple, as no 
Pope had ever dared to do before. He left to Louis 
the petty position of "emperor of men's bodies": 
he occupied the position of Jupiter. Europe was cowed 
by the impersonal arrogance of his language. He was 
the greatest maker of the mediaeval Papacy. * 

Nicholas did a greater work than Hildebrand be- 
cause the times permitted him. He had to deal with 
the degenerate descendants of Charlemagne, not with 
a powerful ruler. On the other hand, court-favour and 
prosperity had made the leading prelates a feudal 
aristocracy, often arrogant and avaricious; and the 
monks they threatened and the priests they oppressed 
turned eagerly from them to the Roman cotut of appeal. 
Princes chafed at the independence of their spiritual 
vassals, and would depose them : bishops chafed at the 
interference of their suzerains, and would assert the 
independence of the Church. A thousand voices ap- 
pealed to Rome. The fact that the Forged Decretals 
were noc made at Rome or in the interest of Rome, but 
by the provincial clergy in their own interest, gives us the 
measure of the age. And the fact that such forgeries 
were at once received reminds us of another favourable 
circimistance: the dense ignorance of the time. There 

« Ep,, cxxxv. ' Ep., cxv. 

i An excellent analysis of his ideas is given in Dr. A. Greinacher's 
Die Anschaungen des Papstes Nikolaus I. uber dtis Verhdltniss von Stoat 
und Kirche (1909). 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 105 

was ctilture in places, as the contemporary work of 
Scotus Erigena reminds us, but to check these Papal 
claims one needed a knowledge of history, and the 
true story of the development of the Church and the 
Papacy, as we know it, was buried tmder a dense growth 
of legends and forgeries. Hence the dogmatic Papal 
conception, partly based on such doctunents as the 
Donation of Constantine and the Forged Decretals^ sank 
almost unchallenged into the mind of Europe, and the 
Pope was now enabled to dispense with the swords of 
princes and rely on religious threats. The letters of 
Nicholas splutter anathemas from beginning to end. 

His first extant letter gives the Archbishop of Sens 
and his colleagues a stem lesson on the prestige of the 
Papacy, as understood by Nicholas I. The sixth letter 
peremptorily orders the great Hincmar of Rheims and 
his colleagues, in language of the simplest arrogance, 
to excommunicate at once, as he had directed, the 
Cotmtess Ingeltrude. But within a few years Nicholas 
was involved in such a mesh of correspondence with 
offending princes and prelates that we must consider 
the chief causes in succession. 

The Eastern Empire was then ruled by Michael the 
Drtmkard, his mistress Eudocia, and the Emperor's 
tutor in vice, his uncle Bardas. This pretty trio de- 
posed the saintly Ignatius from the See of Constanti- 
nople, and put in his place the imperial secretary Photius, 
one of the most accomplished scholars and least scru- 
pulous courtiers of the East. The better clergy pro- 
tested, and the court sought the support of the Pope. 
A glittering captain of the guards presented himself at 
Rome with a set of jewelled altar- vessels and, no doubt, 
a diplomatic account of the situation. But Nicholas 
at once rebuked the Emperor for his " prestunptuous 

io6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

temerity" in deposing Ignatius without the assent of 
Rome, and sent legates to inquire into the matter; 
and he took prompt occasion to demand the restoration 
of Papal rights and patrimonies in the East.' The 
Eastern court must have gasped at this language. 
However, the Pope's legates were suborned, and a 
Council held at Constantinople (May, 86i) confirmed 
the election of Photius. Nicholas was not satisfied,* 
and at length he heard the truth from Ignatius. He 
called a Cotmcil at Rome, ordered Michael to restore 
Ignatius,^ and threatened Photius with all the ana- 
themas in the Papal arsenal if he did not retire. 

Photius kept his place, and in 865 Michael wrote an 
abusive and threatening letter to the Pope. We gather 
from the Pope's reply that it expressed the greatest 
contempt and threatened that Greek troops would 
come and make an end of them all. The lengthy reply 
of Nicholas has some fine passages, but it argues too 
much where silence would have been more dignified, 
and is at times petty and petulant in hurling back the 
Emperor's foolish insults. ^ It received no answer, and 
in November, 866, Nicholas wrote again. He was, he 
said, sending legates to judge the case at Constantinople 
and would remind Michael of the terrible things in 
store for those who disobeyed him; as to that abusive 
letter, he says, if Michael does not take it back, he 
will "commit it to eternal perdition, in a great fire, and 
so bring the Emperor into contempt with all nations." 
He also sent a very threatening letter to Photius. But 
the letters never reached Constantinople. The legates 
were turned back at the frontier, and Photius went on 

« Ep,^ IV. » Ep., xii. and xiiL 

J Ep, xlvi. < Ep., Ixxxvi. « £/»., xcviii. 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 107 

to publish a virulent tirade on the errors and heresies 
of the Latins. This seems to have been beyond the 
resources of the Lateran, and the scholars of France 
were entrusted with the defence of the West. Ignatius 
was eventually restored, but Nicholas did not live to 
see the issue, and the Eastern Church again drifted far 
away from the Western. 

The anathema had proved ineffectual in the East, 
but Nicholas had meantime begun to employ it with 
happier results in Europe. In spite of the Puritanism 
of Lotiis I., the loose tradition of Charlemagne's court 
lingered in France and Nicholas soon f otmd it necessary 
to rebuke aristocratic sinners. I have mentioned that u^ 
in 860 he threatened the Countess Ingeltrude with 
excommunication if she did not abandon her gay vaga- 
bondage and return to her husband, the Cotmt of 
Burgimdy. Her son Hucbert had claimed the atten- 
tion of Benedict III., who tells us that this high-bom 
yotmg abbot went about France with a lively troop 
of actresses and courtesans, corrupted the most vener- 
able nunneries, and filled monasteries with his hawks 
and dogs and licentious ladies.' Hucbert's sister, 
Theutberga, was wedded to Lothair of Lorraine, brother 
of the Emperor Louis, who accused her of incest with 
Hucbert before her marriage and proposed to divorce 
her and marry his fascinating mistress Waldrada. 
Whether she was guilty or not we cannot tell, as no 
proper trial was ever held. She claimed the hot-water 
ordeal, and her champion was imscathed. Then 
Lothair won the support of the chief prelates of his 
kingdom, and they obtained or extorted from her a 
confession of guilt. They committed her to a nunnery 
and, in 862, granted Lothair a divorce. 

io8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Theutberga appealed to Rome, and Nicholas ordered 
that a general synod should meet at Metz. In his most 
lordly manner the Pope directed Charles the Bald and 
Louis of Germany (imcles of Lothair) to send bishops 
to this synod, but they left the field to their nephew and, 
as he bribed the Pope's legates, he secured a confirmation 
of the divorce Qime, 863). Nicholas set his lips with 
more than their usual sternness when the archbishops of 
Cologne and Treves arrived with this decision. Sum- 
moning his own bishops to a council, he bltmtly de- 
scribed the Metz synod as "a brothel," annulled its 
decision, and excommimicated the two archbishops. 
In language more imperious than any that had yet 
issued from the Lateran, he declared that this was the 
decision of the Vicar of Christ, and any man — ^he seems 
to refer pointedly to the royal families — who ventured 
to dissent from this or any other Papal pronouncement 
would incur the direst anathemas. 

Gunther, the Archbishop of Cologne, fled in anger to 
the court of the Emperor, and before long Louis was 
marching on Rome at the head of his troops. ^ It was 
a critical moment for the Papal conception. Nicholas 
ordered fasts and processions, and one of these proces- 
sions, headed by the large gold crucifix which was be- 
Ueved to contain a part of the true cross, went out to 
St. Peter's, near which the imperial troops were en- 
camped. To the horror of the Romans, the soldiers 
fell on the procession with their swords, and flung the 
precious cross into the mud. Nicholas crossed the 
river secretly and remained in prayer in St. Peter's, 
for forty-eight hours, without food. This was the 
world's reply to his first tremendous assertion of author- 

* The best account is in the Annals of St, Berlin, in the Monutnenia 
Germania; Historical vol. i. 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 109 

ity, and the history of Europe might have been altered 
if the imperial sword had on that occasion prevailed 
over his spiritual threats. But the Papacy was saved 
by one of those accidents which so deeply impressed 
the mediaeval imagination. The man who had insulted 
the cross died suddenly, and Louis himself became 
seriously ill. The Empress hurried to the Pope, and 
in a short time the troops were marching northward. 
From that day anathema becomes a mighty weapon 
in the hands of the Popes. 

Archbishop Gunther was not so easily intimidated. 
He wrote a fierce diatribe against Nicholas — this new 
"emperor of the whole world," — ^had a copy flimg upon 
the tomb of the apostle, and departed for Lorraine. 
But Nicholas now knew his power. He scolded Charles 
and Louis like lackeys for not sending bishops to Metz ; 
they held their swords from St. Peter, and they must 
listen to a Pope who speaks from direct divine revela- 
tion.' The two kings persuaded Lothair to disown 
Gunther and submit, and the legate Arsenius was sent 
to France. This legate Arsenius, an arrogant and 
worldly Bishop, whose career ended in grave scandal, 
delivered the Pope's orders at the courts of Charles, 
Louis, and Lothair with a haughtiness even greater and 
less respectable than that of Nicholas. He was obeyed 
at once, says Hincmar, who shudders at the facile 
scattering of anathemas. * He then conducted Theut- 
berga to her husband and made the prince and his nobles 
swear on the most sacred relics to respect her; and, after 
a final shower of "imheard-of maledictions" (says Hinc- 
mar), he set out for Rome with the siren Waldrada. 

' Ep., IzxxiiL 

' It is, at least, generally believed that Hincmar wrote this part of 
the BerUnian Annals, 

no crises in the History of the Papacy 

There is grave reason to believe that the arn^;ant 
Bishop was bribed, or otherwise corrupted, by Wal- 
drada. She "escaped" in northern Italy and returned 
to Lorraine; and the unhappy Theutberga now ap- 
pealed to Nicholas to release her and let Lothair marry 
Waldrada. To this noble appeal Nicholas could have 
but one answer; for the claims of the human heart he 
had no ear. She must remain in her husband's bed 
if it means martyrdom. Lothair shall never marry 
that "whore" even if Theutberga dies. There death 
compelled Nicholas to leave the romantic situation of 
Lothair; and one reads, almost with a smile, that his 
successor, Hadrian II., accepted Lothair's sworn de- 
claration (supported by many presents) that he had 
had no relations with Waldrada since the prohibition, 
and admitted him and the Archbishop of Cologne to 
the holy table. One must respect the great Pope's 
insistence on what he believed to be a divine ordination, 
but the historians who represent him as the champion 
of the hiunan rights of an injured woman forget the 
final martyrdom of Theutberga. 

One seems at first to find a more himian note in the 
Pope's indulgence toward Baldwin of Flanders. Judith, 
daughter of Charles the Bald, had been put under re- 
straint by her father for misconduct, and in 860 she 
eloped with the young Count of Flanders. Baldwin 
asked the Pope's mediation, and he won from Charles 
forgiveness for the erring couple. If, however, one 
reads his letter (xxii.) careftilly, one finds no grotmd 
for the claim that he was " tender toward the penitent." 
He plainly says that Baldwin had threatened to throw 
in his lot with the Norman pirates if Charles persists 
in his threat of vengeance. There is a nearer approach 
to sentiment in the Pope's effort to secure the property 

Nicholas T. and the False Decretals iii 

of the widowed Helletrude, which had been seized by 
Lothair; but we do not know the issue of his interven- 
tion in that case. 

If the new language of the Papacy fell with uncertain 
effect upon the ears of kings and sinners, it did at least 
win a triumph among the great prelates of Europe and 
raised the Roman See immeasurably above them. 
The conflict with Hincmar of Rheims was the most 
notable and successful struggle in which Nicholas 
engaged. Hincmar was the most distinguished and 
one of the more worthy of the prelate-nobles who had 
risen to wealth and power with the settlement of Europe. 
He was a man of imperious temper and great ability, 
yet of sincere religious feeling and concern for the 
prestige of the Gallic Church. One of his suffragans, 
Rothrad of Soissons, incurred his dislike, and, when this 
Bishop suspended one of his priests, who had been 
caught in adultery and ignominiously mutilated by 
his parishioners, Hincmar reinstated the man. When 
Rothrad not imnaturally remonstrated, he was deposed 
by Hincmar and a jury of five bishops, ' and he appealed 
to Rome. In order to frustrate this appeal, Hincmar 
took a weak and improper advantage of a letter written 
by Rothrad, saying that in this letter the Bishop aban- 
doned his appeal, and induced the King to forbid him 
to go to Rome. Then, in a synod which met at Soissons, 
he had the deposition confirmed and Rothrad sentenced 
to live in a monastery. 

Nicholas at once, in 863, wrote a severe letter to 
Hincmar, harshly rebuking him for his want of respect 
for the Roman See and claiming that the case ought to 
have been remitted to Rome whether Rothrad had 
appealed or no.* In a second letter written shortly 

> Bertinian Annals^ year 865. ' £p., xxxiii. 

112 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

afterwards, he threatened to depose Hincmar if he did 
not obey, or come to justify his conduct at Rome, within 
thirty days. ' He wrote in the same harshly autocratic 
language to the King and to the other French prelates ; 
if his orders were not at once obeyed, he would punish 
everybody severely. The greatest prelate-noble in 
Europe and the King himself submitted almost without 
a struggle, and Rothrad went to Rome. Hincmar, it 
is true, disdained to send witnesses and attempted in 
his letter to defend his action, but the Pope went on his 
way as calmly and inexorably as if he were dealing with 
a few refractory monks. On Christmas Eve, 864, he 
preached a sermon on the case and annotmced that he 
had reinstated Rothrad. The legate Arsenius was 
then about to set out for France on the mission I have 
already described, and he took Rothrad with him to the 
court of Charles. He took also a letter to Hincmar 
which began: '* If thou hadst any respect for the canons 
of the Fathers or the Apostolic See, thou wouldst not 
have attempted to depose Rothrad without our know- 
ledge." I will consider later this covert reference to 
the Forged Decretals. Rothrad was reinstated; and the 
language in which the Bertinian Annals describe the 
Pope's procedure shows the bitter resentment it pro- 
voked in France. 

An incident that occurred in the coiu^e of the dispute 
shows — if proof were necessary — that Nicholas acted 
on a sincere conviction of right. In 863 Lothair ap- 
pointed Archbishop Gunther's brother, Hildwin, to the 
See of Cambrai, and Hincmar rightly protested that 
the man was imworthy. He appealed to Nicholas, 
and, although his appeal reached the Pope at a time 
when he was threatening to depose Hincmar, and that 

* Ep., xxxiv. 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 113 

prelate still evaded his orders, Nicholas at once dis- 
charged a shower of his menacing letters' in support of 
Hincmar and did not rest until Lothair abandoned 
Hildwin. Warped as it was, at times, by a too exalted 
conception of the authority of his See, Nicholas had, 
nevertheless, a rigid sentiment of justice, and it was 
his supreme aim to make that anarchic world bow to 
moral no less than ecclesiastical law. 

He had not yet reached the end of his conflict with 
the great representative of the prelate-nobles. Hinc- 
mar's predecessor, Ebbo, had conferred orders after 
he had been deposed, and a coimcil held at Soissons in 
853 had suspended these clerics from the exercise of 
their fimctions. Benedict IJX. and Nicholas himself 
had expressed a qualified approval of this coimcil, but 
the Forged Decretals were now circulating in Prance, and 
one of the suspended clerics, Wulfad, — ^possibly en- 
couraged by the success of Rothrad, — appealed to 
Rome. Once more Nicholas curtly ordered Hincmar 
either to reinstate the clerics or to summon a new coim- 
cil, to which the Pope would send legates, at Soissons. 
The council was held, and the Prench bishops endeav- 
oured by means of a compromise to save their own 
dignity yet avoid a quarrel : they decided to reinstate 
the clerics as an act of grace. This evasion drew from 
the Pope some of the sorriest letters in his register. 
Not only in a most harsh and offensive letter to the 
Archbishop,* but even in a letter to the bishops,^ he 
accused Hincmar of fraud, insisted that the acta of the 
earlier Soissons coimcil had been submitted in a dis- 
honest form to his " divinely inspired " predecessor and 
himself, and, on the pretext that Hincmar was wearing 
his pallium on improper occasions, threatened to punish 

' XLL. xlii., and xliii. » CVIII. « CVH. 

114 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

his "pride" and "vainglory" by a withdrawal of that 
distinction. He ordered them to hold a new council. 
Nicholas died before the report of this council reached 
Rome, and his indulgent successor exculpated Hincmar. 
But the meekness with which those terrible letters 
were received is a measure of the advance of the Papacy. 
A story that is told at length in the Liber Pontificalis 
affords another instance of this assertion of spiritual 
autocracy and its encouragement by appeals from the 
provinces. The Pope was informed that John of 
Ravenna abused his power; bishops complained that 
he quartered himself and his expensive retinue on them 
for unreasonable periods and made other exacting de- 
mands. When John received letters of remonstrance 
and legates from Rome, he forbade his subjects to 
appeal to the Pope, and strengthened his authority by 
falsifying the dociunents in his archives: a crime at 
which the Roman Anastasius expresses the most naive 
surprise and indignation. When Nicholas sununoned 
him to appear before a Roman synod, John "boasted" 
that he was not subject to the Bishop of Rome, and, 
when the synod excommimicated him, he appealed to 
the Emperor. He then went, with the support of 
imperial legates, to beard Nicholas in the Lateran, but 
the Pope astutely detached the legates from him and 
he returned in concern to Ravenna. In this case the 
prelate was impopular and imjust, so that Nicholas 
had a good local base for his authority. He went in 
person to Ravenna, and before long men pointed the 
finger of scorn or of horror at their proud Archbishop 
as he rode through the streets. The Emperor aban- 
doned him, and in a few months we find John at Rome, 
humbly submitting to the rod, placing the written 
record of his penitence on the holy sandals of the Savioiu*. 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 115 

A remarkable extension of this authority is attempted 
in a letter which Nicholas addressed to King Charles 
in 867. The dispute about predestination which then 
agitated clerical Europe, and gave some fallacious 
promise of a revival of intellect, had been submitted 
to Nicholas in the early days of his Pontificate. Nicho- 
las was, like all the great Popes, a statesman and canon- 
ist, not a theologian. He prudently remained silent, 
and let Pranks and Germans belabour each other with 
theological epithets. When, however, he heard that 
Charles had invited the famous John Scotus Erigena, 
the subtlest thinker of the early Middle Ages, to trans- 
late a supposed work of Denis the Areopagite {De 
Divinis Nominibus), he reproved the King for issuing 
so important a book without having submitted it to 
Rome. ' We do not find that Charles took any notice 
of his claim of censorship, or sent him a copy of the 
book. It is a good illustration of the attitude of Rome 
that a thinker like Scotus Erigena, in whose works we 
plainly recognize the most advanced heresy that arose 
in Europe before the eighteenth century, incurred so 
little censure. Nicholas merely complains that the 
learned Irishman is rumoured to be not entirely sound 
in theology. 

Still bolder is the claim made in a letter in which 
Nicholas sought to control the conversion of the Danes. 
No new national Church must be founded without his 
authority, he says, since "according to the sacred de- 
crees even a new basilica cannot be built without the 
command of the Pope. "* In this he outran not only 
the genuine, but the forged. Decretals. He had in 
mind, no doubt, a decree of Gelasius on the subject of 
church-building, but this merely forbade the erection 

« Ep., cxv. • Ep„ 

ii6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

of a church, without authority, in the Roman diocese 
itself. At the other extremity of Europe Nicholas 
made elaborate efforts to bring the Bulgarians under 
his authority. He sent legates to King Boris, and 
wrote a very long and curious reply to a large number 
of questions— ranging from the most exalted points of 
faith to the wearing of trousers by women — ^which the 
Bulgarians submitted to him. He did not live to see 
the relapse of the deceitful and ambitious Slavs. 

These are the outstanding features of the voluminous 
correspondence of Nicholas the Great. They bring be- 
fore us the portrait of a man who is raised above the 
disorder of his time, not so much by strength of person- 
ality as by the exaltation of his sacerdotal creed. In 
a more orderly Christendom Nicholas might have 
seemed an exemplary and not greatly distinguished 
bishop, but chaos has ever been the native element of 
such creative genius as he possessed. Since all men 
now bowed in theory to the Christian ideal, their very 
disorders lent authority to the Pope's anathemas. He 
hears that a set of yoimg bishops are devoted to htmt- 
ing and even to less reputable pastimes, and his scorn 
is irresistible.' He hears that the sons of Charles the 
Bald have quarrelled with their royal father, and, 
though they are now reconciled, "we direct that you 
present yourselves hiunbly at a synod to be held in a 
place appointed by us, to which we will send legates 
of the apostolic authority." ^ He has little time or 
inclination for the material decoration of Rome. He 
restores St. Peter's and the Trajan aqueduct; he or- 
ganizes the distribution of charity; but his life-work 
is the consolidation of the spiritual supremacy of the 

» Ep,, cxxvii. ■ Ep., 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 117 

Popes. He is, pre-eminently, the smiter of the power- 
ful; and, in smiting them, he strengthens the Papal 
ann. Portimately for him and the Papacy, he has to 
deal with a degenerate, ignorant, and superstitious 
generation : the night of the Dark Age is drawing in — a, 
night which is not disproved by showing, as Maitland 
does, that there was a little lamp here and there. And 
when we contemplate that world of murder, incest, 
rape, spoliation, and monastic and priestly corruption 
which is reflected in the Pope's letters, we feel that it 
was well for Europe to have such a master. 

On the other hand, we do assuredly find Nicholas, 
and each succeeding great Pope, yielding to that most 
natural temptation of the moralist and priest in face 
of grave disorder — acting on the tmformulated prin- 
ciple that the end sanctifies the means. The question 
whether Nicholas relied on the Forged Decretals has 
now been so fully discussed that it is possible to give a 
precise answer; at least when we consider certain 
passages in his letters which have been overlooked. 
On the origin and spread of the Decretals I need only 
siunmarize accepted results. " The collection originated 
in France about the year 850, though it is still disputed 
whether it was composed in the diocese of Tours or 
(as seems more probable) that of Rheims. It follows 
from this origin that the forgery was perpetrated, not 
in the interest of the Papacy, but of the bishops and 

' The famous collection which bears the name of Isidorus Mercator 
contains about sixty spurious Decretals in the first part, covering the 
first three centuries, and about thirty in the third part; the second part 
contains the canons of councils. The author makes an adroit use of 
older documents, and his work is largely a mosaic of genuine fragments 
(of P&pal letters, chronicles, etc.) so pieced together and ante-dated as to 
father later developments of Papal authority on the earlier Popes. The 
best edition is that of P. Hinschius (1863), and the best survey of recent 

ii8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

lower clergy, to whom it gave the right of appeal to a 
central authority against the (often tinjiist) sentences 
of higher prelates and the aggression of lay nobles. 
The book, however, is not merely concerned with ques- 
tions of jurisdiction and appeal. It is further agreed 
that, though the successor of Nicholas, Hadrian IL, 
certainly used the Forged Decretals^ they were little 
used by the Popes before the middle of the eleventh 
century ; but it is equally agreed that they were of im- 
mense service to the Papacy in spreading a conviction 
of the antiquity of its most advanced claims and in 
promoting the practice of appeal to it. 

The chief point in dispute is whether Nicholas knew 
and employed the forgery, and with this I may deal 
more fully. The first letter in the Pope's Register is a 
reply to Wenilo, Archbishop of Sens, in regard to the 
deposition of a bishop. Servatus Lupus, the learned 
abbot of Perri^res, had written on behalf of Wenilo 
— the letter is fortimately preserved — to say that men 
were quoting a certain Decretal of Pope Melchiades 
which reserved to the Papacy the deposition of bishops. ' 
This was evidently a quotation from the Forged Decre- 
tals, yet in his reply Nicholas completely ignores the 
supposed Decretal on which his opinion was expressly 
asked. Whether or no we may infer from this silence 
that Nicholas was ignorant of the source of the quota- 
tion, we may surely conclude that so industrious a 

study is the article "Pseudoisidor" in Herzog's Real-Encydopadie fUr 
Protestaniische Theologie, There is a useful chapter in The Age of 
Charlemagne (1898), by C. L. Wells. The ablest Catholic study of 
the relation of Nicholas to the collection is Jules Roy's Saint Nicholas 
(1901). See also Les Fausses DicrStales (1879), of Father Ch. deSmcdt. 
On the general question of the Pope's use of spurious documents see 
the able Old Catholic work of J. Rich tench, Papst Nikolaus /. (1903). 
' See Ep., cxxx., of Servatus Lupus. 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 119 

canonist would make immediate inquiries about this 
remarkable doctmient, if he were not already acquainted 
with it. Since, however, he made no reply to the 
question whether the deposition of a bishop was re- 
served to the Papacy, I infer that he was unaware of 
the existence of the Decretals ; and this is strongly con- 
firmed by a letter which he wrote in 862. He tells 
King Solomon of Brittany that a bishop may be de- 
posed by twelve bishops, on the evidence of seventy- 
two witnesses, and he refers to Pope Silvester as the 
authority for this mythical ordinance/ In this he 
relies on a spurious doctmient, but a doctmient not 
contained in the Isidorean collection. The main point 
is that he allows the local deposition of bishops, and 
enjoins recourse to Rome only in case of dispute. He 
does not yet seem to know the Decretals, but, as Hinc- 
mar had used them in 857 (possibly in 853), we can 
hardly imagine such a Pope as Nicholas remaining long 
unaware of the existence in Prance of this strong foun- 
dation of his authority; especially when, as I said, his 
attention had been plainly drawn to it by Servatus 

Then came the case of Rothrad,* and Nicholas, as we 
saw, wrote to Hincmar that the case ought to have 
been remitted to Rome whether Rothrad had appealed 
or no^; but it is clear that he is speaking of a vague 
duty imposed by general respect for the Apostolic See, 

» Ep,, XXV. 

* It is not easy to regard Rothrad as the author of the foi^ery» as he 
was not deposed until 862. A more probable source of origin is the 
group of clerics ordained by Ebbo and suspended by Hincmar in 853. 
Even this seems too late, however, as such a compilation was not the 
work of a day. But it is very probable that Rothrad took the book to 
Rome, if it were not already there. 

* Ep., Txxiii. 

I20 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

not of a duty enforced by canonical obligation. If, 
he says, Hincmar were "not disposed" to send the case 
to Rome (si id agere noluisses), he ought at least to 
have respected Rothrad's actual appeal. But when 
we come to 865, and the famous letter (Ixxv.) which 
the Pope wrote to Hincmar and his colleagues, Nicholas 
is quite clear. "Even if," he says, "he [Rothrad] had 
not appealed to the Apostolic See, you had no right to 
run counter to so many and such important decretal 
statutes and depose a bishop without consulting us."' 
The French prelates had complained that such De- 
cretals were not found in their collection : the Dionysian 
collection given to Charlemagne by Hadrian in 774. 
It does not matter, Nicholas replies, whether they 
have them or not ; all Decretals approved at Rome are 
to be respected. And he makes it perfectly clear that 
he is referring, not to genuine Decretals which may not 
be in the Dionysian collection, but to the Isidorean. 
They make use of these Decretals themselves, he says, 
when it suits their purpose; we know that Hincmar 
had done so, and possibly Nicholas had learned this 
from Rothrad. But he makes it still plainer that he is 
not referring to Decretals in the Roman archives, but 
to the Isidorean forgeries, when he says that he is 
thinking of the Decretals of "ancient" (prisci) Pon- 
tiffs, not merely those of Gregory and Leo; and he 
leaves no room whatever for doubt when he includes 
letters written by the Popes in "the times of the pagan 

We must not, however, exaggerate the Pope's reli- 
ance on this imposture. M. Roy has made a careful 

» The mcxieni writers who have contended that these tot et talia decre- 
talia statuta are not the Isidorean Decretals seem not to have read the 
whole letter. 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 121 

analysis of the letters of Nicholas, and he maintains 
that only four of his quotations are from spurious 
Decretals: that three of these are not in the Isidorean 
collection : and that the one which is common to Nicho- 
las and pseudo-Isidore had already been in circulation 
before the imposture was published/ 

Father de Smedt further points out that Nicholas 
made no use of Isidorean Decretals which would, es- 
pecially in his conflict with Photius, have been useful 
to him, and that, when he does use documents which 
are in the Isidorean collection, he gives their genuine 
words or assigns them to their real authors. These 
are generally valid claims, but they do not conflict 
with my conclusion. Nicholas plainly endeavoured to 
use the Forged Decretals, but he had a learned and acute 
antagonist in Hincmar and he dare not quote them 
individually or in their crude Isidorean form. One is 
almost reminded of the smiles of Roman augurs when 
one considers these two great ecclesiastical statesmen, 
using a forged dociunent or watching with complacency 
the use of it, yet checking each other when it affects 
their own interests. There is no answer to Milman's 
sober charge that Nicholas saw the spread of the work 
and did not protest. He knew well the contents of 
the Roman archives — he had a number of scribes study- 
ing them — and he must have known as well as we do 
that there were no genuine Decretals before the time 
of Gelasius. 

The analysis made by M. Roy must be supplemented 
by that of J. Richterich, * from which it appears beyond 

^ Saint Nicholas, Appendix II. (followed by Dr. Mann, voL iiL). 
See also P. Rocquain's La PapautS au Moyen Age (1881). Hefele 
(bd. iv.y p. 292) admits that Nicholas relied on the forger^'. 

• Papst Nikoiaus I. (1903). 

122 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

question that Nicholas made a very extensive iise of 
spurious dociunents ; as we have found Roman officials 
doing from the fourth century. Father de Smedt' 
"does not altogether deny" that, as Hinschius says, 
Nicholas sometimes, in quoting genuine Decretals, al- 
ters their meaning in accordance with the Isidorean. 
Roy himself has to admit that Nicholas goes far beyond 
the words and meaning of Gelasius in saying that no 
church may be built without the Pope's permission.* 
He goes equally beyond genuine precedent in claiming 
that no bishop can be deposed without his authority;" 
hitherto there had been only the vague imderstanding 
that "grave cases" were reserved to the Pope. He 
advances equally beyond precedent in claiming that 
no coimcil can be held without his sanction. Roy^ 
calls this "a pseudo-Isidorean principle," and says 
that Nicholas nowhere asserted it. But Nicholas 
plainly asserts it in Ep., xii., and is just as plainly 
straining a vague early claim of Pope Gelasius.^ 

We must conclude that, however beneficent may 
have been the spiritual centralization which Nicholas 
so ably elaborated, and however impersonal and re- 
ligious his aim may have been, he proceeded at times 
on principles which no cause can sanctify: principles 
which it was dangerous to bequeath to less spiritual 
successors. He died in 867, after nine and a half years 
of heroic work for his ideal: a type of ecclesiastical 
statesman that it needs a peculiarly balanced judg- 
ment to appreciate. The pleasures and thrills of the 
world he despised, and it would be a deep injustice 
to conceive him as other than entirely indifferent to the 
personal prestige of his position. His personality was 

* P. 116. ' £/>/>. f Ixxxii. and cxxxv. 

» P. 131. < £/>., Ixv. 

Nicholas I. and the False Decretals 123 

entirely merged in his ofiBce : he was, indeed, not a per- 
sonality, but the vicar of a greater personaUty. The 
phrase which too often in Hadrian's letters is a mere 
artifice for obtaining wealth and power — "the Blessed 
Peter" — ^was to him the expression of a living and awful 
reality. If the Papacy did not tower above all the 
other thrones in Christendom, the intention of Christ 
was made void. Nicholas would have it realized. In 
that spirit he added strength to the frame of the Papal 
system. The historian must do justice to his aim and 
to the salutary tendency of his moral control of Europe ; 
he must be no less candid in denouncing the sentiment 
that the end justifies the means. 



THE next great stride in the development of the 
Papacy is taken by Gregory VII., the true suc- 
cessor of Nicholas I. and Gregory I. Europe seemed, 
indeed, entirely prepared for that last development of 
the Papal system which we connect with the name of 
Hildebrand, and a student of its essential growth may 
be tempted to pass at once from the ninth to the eleventh 
century. But to do so would be to omit one of the 
most singular phases of the story of the Papacy and 
leave in greater obscurity than ever one of its most 
interesting problems. How comes it that a Century 
of Iron, as Baronius has for ever branded the tenth 
century, falls between the work of Nicholas and the 
still greater work of Gregory? May we trust those 
modem writers who contend that the devout father of 
ecclesiastical history was gravely imjust to the Papacy, 
and that we may detect the play of a romantic or a 
malicious imagination in the familiar picture of Theodora 
and Marozia controlling the chair of Peter and invest- 
ing their lovers or sons with the robes of the Vicar of 
Christ? Some consideration must be given to this 
phase, and it will be convenient to take John X. as its 
outstanding and characteristic figure. 

I have already observed that few really unworthy 


John X. and the Iron Century 125 

men sat in the chair of Peter until the close of the ninth 
century. Among the hundred Popes who preceded 
Nicholas I. there had been, it is true, few men of com- 
manding personality, but there had been still less men 
of ignoble character. They had been, on the whole, 
men whose real mediocrity is not obscured by the ful- 
some praises of their official panegyrists, yet, for the 
most part, men of blameless life. In the ninth century 
we see a gradual deterioration. Hadrian II. tries, 
with equal sincerity though less personality, to play the 
great part of Nicholas, and it is from no fault of char- 
acter that he fails to coerce princes and prelates. John 
VIII. plays a not ignoble himian part during the calam- 
itous decade of his Pontificate, though there is more 
soldierly ardoiu* than religious idealism in his defence 
of the Papacy. After him, in quick succession, come 
five Popes of little-known character, and then we have 
that famous Stephen VI. who digs the half-putrid body 
of a predecessor, Formosus, from its grave and treats 
it with appalling outrage. In the gloom which now 
descends on Rome, we follow with difficulty the pas- 
sionate movements of the rival parties, but we know 
that after Formosus there were nine Popes in eight 
years (896-904). With Sergius III. (904-911), the 
Centtary of Iron fitly opens, and his name and that of 
John X., who became Pope in 914, are chiefly associated 
with the names of Theodora and Marozia. 

The general causes of this deterioration are easily 
assigned. In that age of violent character, uncontrolled 
"by culttire, a multiplication of small princedoms was 
sure to lead to bloody rivalries. To this the dissolu- 
tion of the Empire of Charlemagne and the feebleness 
of his descendants had led, especially in Italy, where 
the weakness of a sacerdocracy — that is to say, its 

126 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

liability, if not obligation, to use temporal resources 
for religious rather than mihtary and civic purposes — 
soon became apparent. The Papacy had the further 
weakness that, being nominally independent yet unable 
to defend itself, it was ever on the watch for another 
Pippin — a monarch who would protect it and not govern 
it— and it dangled its tawdry imperial crown before the 
eyes of the kings of Italy, France, and Germany, to 
say nothing of the smaller princes of Italy. Hence 
arose the factions which rent a degraded Rome. We 
must remember, too, that this was a fresh period of 
invasion and devastation: the waves of Saracen advance 
lapped the walls of Rome from the south and the fierce 
Hungarians reached it from the north. 

These general causes of decay are substantial, yet 
we must not be too easily contented with them. Some 
day a subtler or more candid science will tell the whole 
story of the making of the Middle Ages. I need note 
only that the disorder existed in Rome, and often burst 
its bonds, long before the time of Stephen VI. Even 
xmder Hadrian I. we saw relatives and friends of the 
Pope promoted to high office, yet in the end betraying 
characters of revolting brutality. We remember also 
a certain legate of Nicholas I., Bishop Arsenius, who 
handled anathemas with such constmimate ease. 
This man's nephew abducted the daughter of Pope 
Hadrian II., and, when he was pursued, mtu-dered her 
and the Pope's wife. There was some taint in the 
blood — or the brain — of this new Roman aristocracy 
which gathered roimd the Lateran. Under John VIII., 
the strongest successor of Nicholas, they broke into 
appalling disorders. "Their swinish lust," says one 
of the most conservative and most reticent of recent 
writers on the Popes, speaking of the leading Papal 

John X. and the Iron Century 127 

officials of the time, ''was only second to their cruelty 
and avarice."* Hadrian II. had the widow of one of 
these officials whipped naked through the streets of 
Rome, and had another official blinded. Under Stephen 
VI. and Sergius III. these corrupt Roman families 
come into clearer light, and the domination of Theodora 
and Marozia is merely one episode in this lamentable 
development, which has been recorded more fully 
because of the piquancy of this feminine ascendancy 
in a nominal theocracy. 

The period with which we are concerned really opens 
with Pope Formosus, a not unworthy man, who looked 
for support to Amulph of Germany. The Italian 
faction, which looked to Guido of Spoleto and Adalbert 
of Tuscany, regarded this ''treachery" with the bit- 
terest rancotu* and imprisoned the Pope. One of the 
leaders of this section was the deacon (later Pope) 
Sergius. Arnulph came to Rome, and swept the Tuscan- 
Spoletan faction, including Sergius, out of the city. 
Formosus died in 896, his gouty successor followed him 
within a fortnight, and Stephen VI. was elected. As 
soon as Amulph had left Rome, the Pope surrendered 
to the Italian faction, and the Lateran witnessed that 
ghastly outrage of the trial of the mouldering corpse 
of Formosus : on the nominal charge of having exercised 
his functions after being deposed and having passed 
from another bishopric to that of Rome. There seems 
to be some lack of sense of moral proportion in histori- 
ans who, knowing these far graver things, mkke elabo- 
rate efforts to disprove the love-affairs of one or two 
Popes of the period. Three not imworthy Popes filled, 
and soon quitted, the Roman See after Stephen. The 
last of these, Leo V., was dethroned and imprisoned 

' Dr. Mann, iiu, 285. 

128 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

by the cardinal-priest Christopher, who seized the 
Papacy. Sergius and his friends in exile now entered 
into correspondence with the dissatisfied Romans, mas- 
tered the city with an army, and threw Christopher 
in turn into a dimgeon. This was the rise to power 
of Sergius III. ; the beginning of what has been called, 
with more vigotir than accuracy, the Pomocracy.' 

With the weakening of the Empire, the Roman nobles 
had wrested from the Popes the political control of 
the city, and we gather from the titles assigned to them 
that there was a debased restoration of the old repub- 
Ucan forms. The head of one of the leading famiUes, 
Theophylactus, is described as Master of the Papal 
Wardrobe, Master of the Troops, Consul, and Senator. 
His wife, Theodora, called herself the Senatrix: their 
elder and more famous daughter Marozia is named the 
Patricia. The family belonged, of course, to the Tus- 
can-Spoletan faction which triimiphed with Sergius. 
Culture had now fallen so low at Rome that there is no 
writer of the time able or willing to leave us a portrait 
of these remarkable ladies; the nearest authority, the 
monk Benedict of Soracte, is so far from artistic feeHng 
that it would be literally impossible to write a grosser 
and more barbarous Latin than he does. Prom some 
documents of the time it appears that there were ladies 
of this great family who could not write their names, and 
we may presimie that this was their common condition. 
But it is imiformly stated that they were women of great 
beauty and ambition : it is certain that Marozia was the 
mother of John XI., and that she put him on the Papal 
throne: and it is claimed that Sergius was the father of 
John XI., and that John X. was the lover of Theodora. 

' Inaccurate because, however many lovers Theodora and Marozia 
may have had, they were certainly not courtesans. 

John X. and the Iron Century 129 

These stories of amorous relations would not in 
themselves deserve a severe historical inquiry, but they 
have been made a test of the accuracy or inaccuracy 
of our authorities. The older ecclesiastical historians 
admitted them without demur. In the pages of Baro- 
nius Theodora is ''that most powerful, most noble, and 
most shameless whore '* and Sergius is the lover of 
that "shameless whore " Theodora. Pagi and Mansi 
reproduce these words, and they are complacently 
prefixed to the collection of John's letters in the Migne 
edition.* More recent writers like Duchesne and 
Dr. W. Barry admit the charge against Sergius; but 
the learned Muratori boldly questioned the whole 
tradition, and various modem Italian writers have 
attempted to support his case.* 

The claim that we have discovered, since the days 
of Baronius, new doctmients which materially alter 
the evidence, must at once be set aside. Of the Pormo- 
sian writers of the time whose pamphlets have been 
recovered, the priest Auxilius throws no light on this 
subject and the grammarian Vulgarius is unreliable. We 
have letters and poems in which Vulgarius hails Pope 
Sergius as " the glory of the world " and ** the pillar of all 
virtue," and professes a profound regard for the match- 
less virtue and the "immaculate bed" of Theodora.^ 

'See Baronius, year 912, and Mansi, xviii., 314 and 316. 

' Barry's Papal Monarchy (1902), pp. 146 and 150. For criticism of 
the tradition see P. Liverani's study of John X. in vol. ii. of his Opere 
(1858) and P. Pedde's "Ricerche per la Storia da Roma e del Papato 
nel Secolo X." in the Archivi della R, Societd Romana di Storia Patria 
(vols, xxxiii. and following). Dr. Mann follows these critics in his 
chapters on Sergius and John (vol. iv.). 

' Published by £. Diunmler in his Auxilius und Vulgarius (i866)» 
pp. 139-146. Dr. Mann (iv., 139 and 141) thinks it incredible that 
if Theodora were a vicious woman any man should write thus; but 
two pages later he recollects that Vulgarius has accused Pope Sergius of 


I30 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

The fact is that Vulgarius had previoiisly indicted 
Sergitis in lurid terms and had been significantly sum- 
moned to Rome by that vigorous Pontiff. His charges 
of murder and outrage then changed into the most ful- 
some flattery, to which we cannot pay the slightest 
regard. His earlier charges are more serious, as, writ- 
ing only six years after the events, he appeals to the 
still fresh recollection in the minds of the Romans that 
Sergius had had his two predecessors murdered in 
prison. * 

We have no serious reason to differ from Baronius. 
Liutprand, Bishop of Cremona, is the chief accuser. 
As servant of the court of Berengar II. and then of 
Otto I., he often visited Rome in the first half of the 
tenth century, and he knew the city well dtuing the 
Pontificate of John XI., the son of Marozia. He says 
thjat Theodora, ''a shameless whore,** was all-powerful 
at Rome: that she was the mistress of John.X., whom 
she promoted to the See of Ravenna and then to that 
of Rome: that her daughters Marozia and Theodora 
were more shameless than she: and that John XI. was 
the son of Sergius and Marozia. * Liutprand would 
hardly scruple to reproduce gossip, and he is often 
wrong, so that one reads him with caution. Yet his 
statement about Sergius is so far confirmed that so 
careful a writer on the Popes as Duchesne is compelled 
to accept it.^ 

Benedict of Soracte, a very meagre and confused 
chronicler, gives Marozia a dark character in his 

murdering his two predecessors, and he advises us to place no relianoe 
on the word of such a "wretched sycophant." 

' De Causa Formosiana, c. 14. 

* AntapodosiSf ii., 48. 

' In the notes to his edition of the Liber Pontificalis. 

John X. and the Iron Century 131 

Chronicle.^ Her son Alberic was, he says, bom out of 
wedlock: presumably before she married the father, 
Alberic I. Plodoard, the most respectable chronicler 
of the time, tells us in his Annals (year 933) that John 
XI. was the son of Marozia and the brother of Alberic 
II.; but neither there nor elsewhere does he mention 
the father, and the omission is significant. Flodoard, 
a deeply religious monk, imder personal obligations to 
the Papacy, was not the man to repeat scandalous 
Roman gossip; yet in his long poetic history of the Pap- 
acy he brands Marozia as an incestuous woman united 
to an adulterer, and he describes John XL, whom he 
disdains, as so pirny a thing that we can scarcely con- 
ceive him as a son of the vigorous Alberic' Lastly, 
the one-Une notice of John XL in the Liber Pontificalis 
says that he was "the son of Sergius HI.** We do not 
know when or by whom this was written, but recent 
attempts to represent it as an echo of Liutprand have 
failed. We must agree with Duchesne that it is a 
distinct testimony and "more authoritative" than 
that of Liutprand. 

I have analyzed afresh the original evidence on this 
not very important pdint merely in order to show the 
futility of recent attempts to rehabilitate the age of 
John X. Pope Sergius, the chief ecclesiastic of the 
Italian faction to which John belonged, was a violent 
and unscrupulous man. He resigned a bishopric, and 
returned to the rank of deacon, in order that he might 
have a better chance of the Papacy. He was Anti- 
Pope to John IX. in 898, and was excommimicated 
and driven from Rome; and he forced his way back at 
the point of the sword. The charge that he was respon- 

» C. 29. 

* De Ckristi Triumphis apud Italiatni, xiL, 7. 

132 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

sible for the death of his two predecessors cannot be 
disregarded, and he certainly dealt violently with his 
opponents. The charge of loose conduct is not more 
serious than these things, and it rests on strong evidence. 

To this party John X. belonged. His early career 
is not very plain, but he appears first as a deacon at 
Bologna. He was chosen to succeed Bishop Peter of 
that city, but, before he was consecrated, Archbishop 
Kailo of Ravenna died, and John passed to Ravenna 
and occupied its See. Nine years later, in 914, he was 
elected Bishop of Rome. It was scarcely thirty years 
since his party had foully treated the body of Formosus, 
partly on the charge of passing from another bishopric 
to that of Rome. One naturally suspects ambition 
in John and powerful influence in his favoiu* at Rome. 
We know, in fact, that he was on excellent terms with 
Theophylactus and Theodora, ' and no one now doubts 
that they secured his election. We are therefore not 
wholly siuprised, considering the age, when Liutprand 
assures us that he was a charming man, and that 
Theodora, meeting him during one of his missions to 
Rome, conceived a passion for him. 

It is neither possible not profitable to linger over the 
subject, and the impartial student will probably neither 
assent to nor dissent from this imconfirmed statement 
of the Bishop of Cremona. Liverani ridicules it on the 
groimd that Theodora must have been far from young, 
since her daughter Marozia married Albert of Came- 
rino about the year 915. It is curious to find a native 
of Italy, where girls are often mature at twelve, and 
were in the old days often mothers at thirteen, raising 
such an objection. Theodora may quite well have 
been still in her thirties in 915. I would, however, 

' See a letter from him at Ravemia to them in Liverani, Opere, iv., 7. 

John X. and the Iron Century 133 

rather call attention to the moral condition of Europe 
at the time. The pious Bishop of Verona, Ratherius, 
gives us an extraordinary picttire of the Uf e of some of 
his episcopal colleagues.' They rush through their 
mass in the morning, don gorgeous dresses and gold 
belts, and ride out to hunt on horses with golden bridles : 
they return at night to rich banquets, with massive 
goblets of good wine, and dancing girls for company, 
and dice to follow: and they retire, too often with their 
companions, to beds that are inlaid with gold and silver 
and spread with covers and pillows of silk. Bishop 
Atto of Vercelli gives us a corresponding picture of 
the Uves of the lower clergy and their wives and mis- 
tresses.* The proceedings of the Council of Trosl6, 
in the year 909, confirm and enlarge this remarkable 
picture. ^ Assuredly no historian who knows the tenth 
centtuy will find the charges against Sergius and John 

Whatever may be their value, John was no idle 
voluptuary. He found the Saracens still devastating 
southern Italy and he helped, in 915, to form a great 
league against them. When the Duke of Capua led 
out his troops, and the Spoletans and Beneventans fell 
into line at last, and even the Greeks sent a fleet, the 
Roman militia was marshalled, and John rode at their 
head beside the fiery young Alberic of Camerino. He 
was not the first of the many fighting Popes: John 
Vni. had built a Papal navy and dealt the Saracens 
some shrewd blows. But John X. was the first Pope 
to take the field in person, and we lament that the 
wretched scribes of the time have left us no portrait 
of the consecrated warrior. We know from his letters 

» Praloquia, v., 7. • £p., iz. 

* Mansiy zviiu, ^63* 

134 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

that he exposed himself on the field, and from the 
chronicles that he fired the troops. The Saracens were 
at last pinned in their camp on a hill near the mouth 
of the Garigliano, and, after a long blockade, were 

John and the Marquis Alberic enjoyed a splendid 
ovation at Rome, and it was probably at this date that 
the hand of Marozia was bestowed on Alberic. But 
the victory had its price. John had to surrender some 
of his patrimonies to the Duke of Gaeta and to confer 
the imperial crown on King Berengar for his assistance. 
When Berengar came to Rome, and promised to main- 
tain all the rights and properties of the Papacy as other 
Emperors had done, and received the crown from the 
hand of the Pope, it must have seemed that a brighter 
day had dawned at last on Italy. But the restless 
factions murmured, and in a few years Rudolph II. of 
Burgundy was invited to come and seize the crown. 
Berengar brought the half -civilized Himgarians to his 
aid, and a fresh trail of blood and fire marred the face 
of Italy. He lost, and was assassinated (924); but 
Rudolph, who won only the crown of Italy, was not 
left long in peaceful possession of it, and the next move- 
ment of ItaUan politics shows John in a singular situa- 
tion at Rome. 

An earlier chapter of this history was enlivened by 
the amoiu-s of Lothair of Lorraine and Waldrada. 
They left behind them an illegitimate daughter. Bertha, 
who had all the spirit and more than the ambition of 
her mother. There were many women of commanding 
personality (and, usually, little scruple) in the early 
Middle Ages, and the story of Theodora and Marozia 
must not be regarded as very exceptional. Bertha 
made vigorous efforts to win Italy for her favourite 


John X. and the Iron Century 135 

son, Hugh of Province, and, when she died in 925, his 
sister, Irmengard, a fascinating woman who maintained 
the domestic tradition, wpn the bishops and nobles of 
Lombardy for him^by an/ unsparing use of her charms. 
He was presently i6vited to come and drive the Burgun- 
dians out of Italy. ^John X. joined in the invitation 
and went to Mantua to meet him. 

It is recorded that the Pope made some obscure 
bargain with him at Mantua, and there can be little 
doubt that he asked Hugh's aid against Marozia. 
Theophylactus and Theodora were dead, and Marozia 
was at deadly feud with the Pope. Her first husband 
seems to have died about 925, and she had married 
Guido of Tuscany. Whether her quarrel with John 
began before her marriage we do not know, but Liut- 
prand tells us that she and Guido wanted to depose the 
Pope. Both Liutprand and Benedict' make the cause 
of the quarrel clear. John had called his brother Peter 
to his side at Rome, and the power he gave to his brother, 
and therefore withdrew from the lay nobles, infuriated 
his earlier supporters. He turned, as so many Popes 
had done, to a distant prince, and his career soon came 
to a close. 

The chronicle is crude and meagre, but it suggests 
elementary and tmbridled passions. "The Marquis 
Peter," says Benedict, *'so infuriated the Romans that 
he was compelled to leave the city.** He fortified him- 
self in Horta and stmimoned the dreaded Hungarians 
to his aid: than which there could hardly be a graver 
crime in an Italian of the time. They came in large 
numbers and trod the life out of the Roman province. 
When Peter concluded that his opponents were suffi- 
ciently weakened, he returned to Rome and gathered 

' Antapodasis, iiL, 43; Chranicon, c. 29. 

136 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

troops about him. There must have been sombre 
days in the city in that year 928. One day, however, 
when it was observed that few of Peter's men had ac- 
companied him to the Lateran, a band of Marozia's 
followers burst into the palace and laid him dead at the 
Pope's feet. John himself was taken from the palace 
and imprisoned, and he died in prison in the following 
year (929) . Whether he was murdered or died a nattiral 
death is imcertain. ' 

Such was the not unnatural termination of one of the 
longest Pontificates in the history of Rome, and we 
have no reason to suppose that, if we had fuller narra- 
tives than those I have quoted, they would redeem the 
character of John X. His desertion of Bologna for 
Ravenna, and his transfer to Rome within twenty 
years of the time when his party had foully treated a 
dead man for just such an irregularity: his alliance with 
the unscrupulous house of Theophylactus: his quite 
superfluous appearance on the battlefield: his easy 
distribution of royal and imperial crowns: and, above 
all, the maintenance of his unprincipled brother in the 
teeth of deadly hostility, sufficiently indicate his char- 
acter. He was an accomplished adventurer. He 
writes a very good Latin for the period, and may well 
have been a charming and handsome and brave man. 
It is recorded that he richly decorated the Lateran 
Palace. But he was a child of his age, and the historian 
finds it easier to respect the sad and sincere reflection 
of the older ecclesiastical writers — that Christ then 
sliunbered in the tossing barque of Peter — ^than the 

« Benedict merely records his death. Flodoard {Annals, year 929) 
says that "some attributed his death to violence, but the majority to 
grief." Liutprand (iii., 43) aflinns that he was smothered with a 

John X. and the Iron Century 137 

strained efforts of a few modem writers to convince us 
that the chosen Pope of an aristocracy which they 
depict in the darkest colours was merely the victim of 

The Uttle Pontifical work which John did during his 
fourteen years as Pope does not dispose us to alter this 
estimate. The score of his letters which survive gener- 
ally relate to privileges of abbeys or prelates which he 
was asked to grant or confirm. He gave support to 
the monks of Fulda,' of St. Gall,* and of Cluny.^ He 
sent legates on a vague mission to Spain and granted a 
pallium to the Bishop of Hamburg, who was converting 
the far north. He intervened in the religious troubles 
of Dalmatia, at the invitation of the local prelates, and 
wrote them^i^any letters ^ for the regulation (or Roman- 
ization) oJ' their Slav liturgy and discipline. Even to 
Constantinople, which had one of its rare moods of 
affection for Rome, he sent legates to assist the Greeks 
in obliterating the effects of their latest quarrel. 

His work in Bulgaria is not wholly clear, or it might 
be interesting. King Simeon quarrelled with the East- 
em Chtu'ch and turned to Rome, and John naturally 
encotiraged him. He sent legates to Bulgaria, and 
we learn from a letter of Innocent III., long after- 
wards, that they presented Simeon with a golden crown 
from John. It looks as if the Pope gave Simeon some 
kind of imperial rank, but he did not secure the adhesion 
to Rome of the Bulgarian Chiu-ch. 

A few letters to France and Germany are hardly more 
instructive. Heribert of Vermandois seized the person 
of Charles the Simple, and, when he was threatened 
with excommunication, hoodwinked the Pope. Heri- 

« Ep., ii. » Ep., iv. * Ep., xiv. 

< Published by Liverani, iv,, 76-79. 

138 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

bert then, in 925, conferred the rich See of Rheinas on his 
five-year-old son, and John — either in order to secure 
the release of the King or dreading worse things — 
acquiesced.' In Germany John sent his brother to 
assist in the restoration of discipline at the Synod of 
Altheim (916). A few years later he sxunmoned Heri- 
mann. Archbishop of Cologne, and Hilduin and Richer, 
rival bishops of Li^ge, to the bar of Rome. But in this 
apparent assertion of authority he was really acting 
under pressure of the Emperor Berengar, and the sequel 
is not flattering. There was a complicated quarrel 
about the bishopric of Li^ge, and, when the litigants 
refused to come to Rome, John laid down a principle 
which would have seemed to Nicholas I. or Gregory 
VII. an outrage. He rebuked Herimann on the grotmd 
of "an ancient custom that none save the King, to 
whom the sceptre is divinely committed, shall confer a 
bishopric on any cleric." 

These letters, a poor record of official work for so 
long a Pontificate and in so disordered a worid, do not 
ialter our impression of John. Rome shared the gloom 
which lay over Eiu-ope, and it is foolish to suppose that 
the degenerate nobles who ruled the Papacy would 
put on its throne a man who would rebuke their vices 
or resent their domination. Indeed, it will be useful 
to follow the lamentable story a little further, as an 
introduction to the revival which culminates in Gregory 

Marozia crowned her adventiu-ous life in 932 by 
marrying the step-brother of her late husband — the 
licentious Hugh of Provence whom John had helped 
to put on the throne of Italy. In the preceding year 
she had put in the chair of Peter her son, John XI., a 

' Flodoard, EccUsia Remensis Historia, iv., 20. 

John X. and the Iron Century 139 

mere shadow of a Pope. But the disgusted Romans 
flew to arms, imprisoned John and Marozia, and sent 
the brutal Hugh flying for his life. Alberic II. then 
controlled the city and the Papacy for twenty years, 
and a series of obscure, though apparently not tm- 
worthy, men were appointed to discharge the scanty 
spiritual duties which Popes could or would perform in 
that darkest of the dark ages. Alberic bequeathed his 
power to his illegitimate son Octavian, and compelled 
the nobles and clergy to swear to make him Pope at 
the next vacancy. John XII., as he called himself, 
proved the worst Pope yet recorded: more at home in 
the helmet than the tiara, and more expert in the culti- 
vation than in the suppression of vice. When his own 
sword proved incapable of securing his rights, he sum- 
moned Otto I., with the customary bribe of the imperial 
crown. Otto at length deposed him, after six years of 
scandalous abuse of the Papacy, and he disappears from 
history in a singular legend; he died, it was said, of a 
blow on the temples given him by the devil — ^possibly 
in the person of the injured husband — dtuing one of 
his amorous adventures. 

Ten Popes and Anti-Popes, generally men of no dis- 
tinction either in vice or virtue, succeeded each other 
in the next thirty years. The factions at Rome be- 
came more and more violent, and Europe sank deeper 
and deeper into the corruption from which Gregory 
VII. would endeavour to rouse it. The Iron Century 
closed, oddly enough, with the appearance on the Papal 
throne of one of the first scholars of Christian Europe, 
the famous Gerbert (Silvester II.), but his brief and 
premature Pontificate made no impression on that dark 
age. Under Sergius IV. the Roman faction was at 
length destroyed, but the coimts of Tusctilum now 

140 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

dragged the unhappy Papacy to a lower depth. Two 
sons of the first Count, Benedict VIII. and John XIII., 
successively purchased the votes of the electors, and, 
by their venality and violence, added fresh stains to the 
Papal chronicle. The third son of the Count then 
placed his own youthful offspring in the chair of Peter, 
and, under the name of Benedict IX., this youth de- 
graded it with crimes and vices so well authenticated 
that even the most resolute apologist cannot challenge 
the indictment. Pope Victor III., a few years later, 
shudders to mention the "mtu-ders and robberies and 
nameless vices" of Benedict,' and his vague charges, 
supported by Raoul Glaber and other authorities, sug- 
gest that the Lateran Palace must have recalled to the 
mind of any sufiiciently informed Roman some of the 
scenes which had been witnessed in Nero's Golden 
House in the lowest days of paganism. At length, 
after being twice expelled from Rome, he wearied of the 
Papacy — one authority says that he wished to marry — 
and sold it to his imcle John Gratian for one or two 
thousand poimds of gold. By this time there was a 
certain yotmg Hildebrand studying in the Lateran 
School, and the story of his life will tell us the sequel 
of this extraordinary chapter of Papal history. 

' Dialogues, bk. iii. 



THE historian might almost venture to say that the 
Papacy was not evolved, but created. It has 
assiiredly, in its varjring fortimes, reflected as faithfully 
as any other institution the changes of its human en- 
vironment, yet for each new adaptation to favouring 
circtmistances it has had to await the advent of a great 
Pope. Seven men, one might say, created the Papacy : 
Gelasius I., Leo I., Gregory I., Hadrian I., Nicholas I., 
Gregory VII., and Innocent III. Each one of these 
deei)ened the fotmdations and enlarged the fabric of 
the great religious principality. They have had illus- 
trious successors, and, in some respects, the frame of 
the Papacy has been further strengthened; but, on the 
whole, the last five hundred years have been filled with 
a mighty and tmavailing struggle against disintegration. 
Of the seven men I have entunerated Gregory VII., 
or Hildebrand as historians still like to call him, was 
the most romantic and the most singularly creativje. 
He was bom about the year 1025, of hiunble parents, 
in a Tuscan village near Sovana. An tmcle of his was 
abbot of a monastery on the Aventine at Rome, and 
yotmg Hildebrand was at an early date sent to be edu- 
cated under his direction. We recognize in this acci- 
dent the chief clue to the personality and achievements 


142 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

of Gregory VII. A century earlier a group of monks 
at Cluny had reformed their ways, and their stricter 
ideas had slowly spread from one isolated monastery 
to another. The monastery of St. Mary on the Aven- 
tine was one of these rare centres of sincere asceticism, 
and in it the boy would hear talk of the appalling de- 
gradation which had come over the Church of Christ. 
It seems, however, very doubtful whether he ever made 
the vows of a monk. He certainly wore the monk's 
habit, and no epithet is more common on the lips of his 
opponents than "vagabond monk"; while, on the other 
hand, his admirers accept the monastic title, and justify 
the "vagabondage," by various unreliable stories 
about his connexion with the Benedictines. But he 
never describes himself as a monk, and he is not so 
described in the most reliable docimients. The point 
is of slight importance, since Hildebrand certainly 
adopted the sentiments of the monastic reformers, and 
I will not linger over the extensive and conflicting evi- 
dence.' Gregory's fiery and aggressive natiu"e would 
not suffer him to contemplate the triumph of evil from 
the remote impotence of a monastery, but he learned 

» The two ablest recent writers on Hildebrand, the Right Reverend 
Dr. A. H. Mathew {The Life and Times of HUdehrand, 1910) and Dr. 
W. Martens (War Gregor VI L Monch ?, 1891, and Gregor VIL, 2 vols. 
1894 — an invaluable study), hold that he never took the vows. The 
chief biography of Hildebrand on the Catholic side is now the Abb^ 
O. Delarc's GrSgoire VII. et la Riforme de VEglise au XI sihcle (3 vols., 
1889). Slight but excellent sketches will be found in F. Roquain's 
La Papauti au moyen dge (1881) and Hildebrand and Ilis Times (1888) 
by W. R. W. Stephens. Older writers like Voigt, Gfr6rer, Villemain, 
and Bowden are now of little use. The original authorities are as 
numerous as they are unreliable. The partisans of Gregory (chiefly 
Bonitho and Donizo) are scarcely more scrupulous than the partisans 
of Henry (Benzo, Benno, Guido, etc.), or those of Rudolph (Lam- 
bert, Berthold, Bruno, etc.). Fortunately we have a large number of 
Gregory's letters, and, as usual, I rely chiefly on these. 

Hildebrand 143 

his lesson from monks and would rely on them through- 
out life. 

He went also to the Lateran School, where John 
Gratian, whom we described in the last chapter as 
buying the Papacy from his nephew Benedict IX., was 
a teacher. Gratian marked the ecclesiastical promise 
of the dark and ill-favoiu-ed little Tuscan, and, when he 
bought the title of Gregory VI., made him one of his 
capellani: at that time a body of lay officials. The 
work suited Hildebrand, who was even more of a soldier 
than a monk. The road to Rome was lamentably be- 
set by brigands; the houses of many of the nobles in 
the city itself were, in fact, little better than the forti- 
fied dens of wealthy banditti, and the crowds of pil- 
grims might have their gifts torn from their hands at 
the very steps of Peter's altar. So Hildebrand organ- 
ized a militia and made some impression on the robbers. 

Gregory VI. was a more religious man than his pur- 
chase of the See would suggest. He was conspicuous 
for chastity at a time when, a caustic contemporary 
said, it was regarded at Rome as an angelic virtue. 
There is every reason to believe that he bought the 
Roman See with the best of intentions. Unhappily, 
Benedict IX. exhausted his treasury and rettimed to 
claim his dignity; while another faction of the Romans 
set up 'a pretender xmder the name of Silvester II. 
Gregory ruled his flock — ^there was very little Papal 
ruling of the world in those days — from Sta. Maria 
Maggiore: Silvester controlled St. Peter's and the Papal 
mansion on the Vatican: Benedict held the Lateran. 
This squalid spectacle must have stmk deep into the 
soul of the young reformer. But there were religious 
men in Rome, and the virtuous Henry III. was sum- 
moned from Germany. The remedy was almost as 

144 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

humiliating as the disorder. Henry scattered the rivals 
and, observing that there was no member of the Roman 
clergy fit to occupy the See, he put into it one of his 
German bishops, with the title of Clement II. 

Hildebrand went with his patron, in the King's 
train, to Germany, but the more rigorous climate soon 
made an end of John Gratian. It is said, but is by no 
means certain, that Hildebrand then went to Clxmy 
for a time. It is at all events certain that in 1049, the 
Roman climate having killed two German Popes in 
two years, Hildebrand returned to Italy in the train of 
Bishop Bruno. Under the name of Leo IX. this hand- 
some, stately, and deeply religious Pontiff spent the 
next six years in a devoted effort to reform the Church. 
The magnitude of his task may be measured by that 
appalling indictment of clerical and monastic vice, the 
Book of Gomorrha, which Peter Damiani wrote under 
Leo IX., and with his cordial approval. Leo visited 
the chief coimtries of Europe, but he could make little 
impression on that stubborn age and he died almost 
broken-hearted. Under him Hildebrand served his 
apprenticeship. He became a cardinal-subdeacon, a 
guardian of St. Peter's, and rector of the monastery of 
St. Paul: in which, to his fine disgust, he foimd women 
serving the monks. He went also as legate to Prance, 
where he dealt leniently with and learned to esteem the 
chief heretic of the age, B6renger. Hildebrand had 
little insight into character and less into speculative 
theology. To the end of his life he befriended B6renger. 

Leo died in 1055, and Hildebrand was sent to ask 
Henry III. to choose a successor. Henry in turn died 
in 1056, and, as the Roman See was again vacant in the 
following year and the Romans were emboldened to 
choose their own Pope, Hildebrand was sent to concili- 

Hildebrand 145 

ate the Empress Agnes. We must not exaggerate his 
influence at this time, but xmdoubtedly the new Pope, 
Stephen X., and his fanatical Cardinal, Peter Damiani — 
both monks of the reforming school, — regarded him as 
one of their most ardent lieutenants. Indeed from that 
time we trace the adoption at Rome of a policy which is 
clearly due to Hildebrand. The Papacy began to look 
to the Normans, who had conquered southern Italy, 
to save it from the overlordship of the German court, 
and to wage a stem war against simony and clerical 
incontinence. Hildebrand, who had a strange fascina- 
tion for pious women, easily won the Empress Agnes, 
but she was siirrotmded or controlled by simoniacal 
prelates and nobles. Rome must once more change its 
suzerain, or its sword-bearer. 

In the campaign for enforcing celibacy on the clergy 
the monastic reforming school provided fresh allies. 
There was in the city of Milan a yotmg priest named 
Anselm of Baggio, who had studied under Lanfranc at 
Bee. This enthusiast for the new ideas began a nota- 
ble campaign against clerical marriage, and, when his 
archbishop genially transferred him to the remote 
bishopric of Lucca, he left his gospel in charge of two 
other enthusiasts named Ariald and Landulph. It 
must be recollected that clerics did not at that time 
take any vow of chastity, and there were only a few 
disciplinary decrees of earlier Popes to curtail their 
liberty. Most of the priests of every cotmtry were 
legally married, though in some places the law of celi- 
bacy was enforced and they simply had mistresses. 
Against both wives and mistresses a fiuious campaign 
was now directed by the Patarenes. ' The vilest names 

> The reformers of Milan worked chiefly among the poor, especially 
in the "old-^othes quarter,'' or Pataria. Hence the name of the party. 

146 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

were showered on the unhappy wives and children : the 
priests, who said that they would rather desert their 
orders than their wives, were torn from the altars : the 
most lamentable excesses in the cause of virtue were 
committed in the churches. Hildebrand, and after- 
wards Damiani, were sent to enforce what is described 
as the "pacifying policy" of Rome, and we read that 
Milan approached the verge of civil war. 

While Hildebrand was still inflaming the enthusiasts 
of the north, Stephen X. died, and the party opposed 
to the Puritans at Rome at once elected a Pope of their 
own school. The young subdeacon now plainly showed 
his character and masterfulness. He persuaded the 
virtuous archbishop of Florence to accept the title of 
Nicholas II., begged a small army from the Duke of 
Tuscany, entered Rome at the head of his soldiers, and 
swept "Benedict X." and his supporters out of the city. 
The cause of virtue was to be sustained, at whatever 
cost: the keynote of his Ufe was soimded. We may 
also confidently see the action of Hildebrand in a very 
important decision of a Lateran synod held under 
Nicholas that year (1059). In futtire the choice of a 
Pope was to be confined to the cardinal-bishops, who 
would submit their decision to the cardinal-priests 
and deacons.' The rest of the clergy and the people 
were merely to signify their assent by acclamation, and 
the decree contains a vague expression of respect for 
''the rights of the Emperor." A sonorous anathema 

'The word "cardinal" occurs occasionally in early ecclesiastical 
literature in its literal meaning of "important," and is applied to clerics 
of various orders. After the fifth century it is restricted at Rome to 
the first priests of each of the tituli (quasi-parishes) into which the 
city was divided. They numbered twenty-eight in the eleventh cen- 
tury. In the course of time the name was also given to the seventeen 
leading deacons of Rome and the seven suburbicarian bishops. 

Hildebrand 147 

was laid on any who departed from this decree; and I 
may add at once that Hildebrand, who was probably 
its author, entirely ignored it in making the next Pope 
and in his own election. It was the first phase in the 
struggle with the Empire. The German court was dis- 
tracted by the intrigues of rival prelates to seciire the 
control of the Empress and her son, while the Papacy 
now had the support of the Norman Richard of Capua 
(whom Hildebrand induced to swear fealty to the 
Papacy), the troops of Tuscany, and the staves of the 
Patarenes. The German court replied by refusing to 
acknowledge Nicholas II. 

Hildebrand rose to the rank of deacon, then of arch- 
deacon: the straightest path to the Papacy. Had he 
willed, he could have become Pope in 1061, when 
Nicholas died, but the time was not ripe for his colossal 
design. The anti-Piuitans now sought alliance with 
the German court against him, but he siunmoned a 
band of Normans and, with the aid of their spears, put 
Anselm of Lucca on the Papal throne: completely 
ignoring the decree of 1059. The anti-Puritans of 
Rome and Lombardy now imited with the Imperialists, 
and Bishop Cadalus of Parma was made Anti-Pope. 
The war of words which followed was disdainfully left 
by Hildebrand to Damiani, who, in a page of almost 
indescribable invective, assures us that Cadalus was 
" the stench of the globe, the filth of the age, the shame 
of the universe," and that his episcopal supporters 
were better judges of pretty faces than of Papal candi- 
dates. The Imperialist Bishop Benzo of Albi, a genial 
Epicure who united an equal power of invective with a 
more polished culture, retorted heavily on the "vaga- 
bond monks" (Damiani and Hildebrand). At last it 
came to blows, and Hildebrand acted. Cadalus de- 

148 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

scended on Rome with German and Lombard troops: 
Hildebrand simimoned the Normans, and a fierce battle 
was waged for the tiara xmder the very shadow of St. 
Peter's. Then Godfrey of Tuscany appeared on the 
scene with his army, and the decision was remitted to 
a synod at Augsburg. Hildebrand was content, for a 
revolution had occurred at the German court, and 
Damiani was sent to win the verdict at Augsbtirg by 
the ingenious expedient of being himself cotmsel for 
both sides. 

The way was now rapidly prepared for the Pontifi- 
cate of Hildebrand. Godfrey of Tuscany died, and his 
pious widow Beatrice and still more impressionable 
daughter Mathilda were prepared to put their last 
soldier at his disposal. The Patarenes were reinforced 
by the knight Herlembald (whose lady-love had been 
seduced by a priest), and were dragging the married 
priests from their churches and destroying their homes 
in many parts of north Italy. At Florence the monks 
of Vallombrosa lent their fiery aid, even against the 
troops, and one of their number passed unscath^ 
through the ordeal of fire before an immense concoirise 
of people. In the south Robert Guiscard was expelling 
the last remnants of the Saracens and foimding a power- 
ful Norman kingdom. All these forces marched under 
banners blessed and presented by the Pope. One ban- 
ner advanced by the side of the ferocious Herlembald: 
one shone at the head of the Norman troops in Calabria : 
one was seen in the ranks of William of Normandy 
when he made his successful raid upon England. ' 

' In this last case we have the assurance of Hildebrand himself that 
he dictated the Papal policy. Years afterwards he wrote to William 
(£/>., vii., 23) that, when the Xorman envoys came to ask Papal ap- 
proval of his design, it was generally censured as an unjustifiable raid, 

Hildebrand 149 

Alexander closed his short and earnest Pontificate 
on April 21, 1073. Hildebrand, in his capacity of 
archdeacon, took stringent measures for the preserva- 
tion of order, or the coercion of the Imperialist faction ; 
yet, when the voice of the people demanded that he 
should be Pope, his troops made no effort to secure an 
election according to the decree of 1059. He was 
conducting the funeral service over the remains of 
Alexander, on April 22d, when the cry, "Hildebrand 
bishop," was raised. He protested, but Cardinal Hugh 
Candidus, one of the most versatile clerical poUticians 
of the time and afterwards the Pope's deadly enemy, 
stood forth and insisted that the cry was just. Hilde- 
brand was seized and conducted, almost carried, to the 
church of St. Peter in Chains, where he was enthroned, 
as he afterwards wrote to Abbot Didier,^ by "popular 
tumult." It is not certain, but is entirely probable, 
that he sought the imperial ratification. We may con- 
clude that he did this, since, when he was consecrated 
on June 30th, the Empress Agnes and the imperial 
representative in Italy were present. 

In the letters which Gregory issued to his friends 
throughout Europe immediately after his election he 
observes that the strain and anxiety have made him 
ill. We can well believe that when the hour arrived 
for him to mount the throne of Peter, instead of stand- 
ing behind it, he felt a grave foreboding. No man had 
ever yet ascended that throne with so portentous an 

and Hildebrand alone induced Pope Alexander to send the Normans 
a banner: on condition, he adds, that William secured the payment of 
Peter's Pence by the reluctant English and in other ways promoted 
the interests of Rome. But even William did not dream that his ac- 
ceptance of the banner made England, in Hildebrand's opinion, a fief of 
the Roman See! 
« Ep., L, I. 

150 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

idea of its prestige and responsibility, and no Pope had 
ever confronted a more disordered Christendom. There 
had been good men at the Lateran for thirty years, yet 
in the eyes of Hildebrand they must have seemed idle, 
timid, and ineffective. A Pope must wear out his body 
and lay down his life in the struggle with triumphant 
evil: must smite king or prelate or peasant without 
a moment's hesitation: must use every weapon that 
the times afforded — excommtmication or imprecation, 
the spear of the Norman or the sword of the Dane, the 
staff of the ignorant fanatic or the tender devotion of 
woman. "The Blessed Peter on earth," as Hildebrand 
called himself, had a right to implicit obedience from 
every man on earth, on temporal no less than on spiri- 
tual matters. Kings were of less consequence than the 
meanest priests. If kings and dukes resisted his grand 
plan of making the whole of Christendom "pure and 
obedient, " why not make their kingdoms and duchies 
fiefs of the Holy See, to be bestowed on virtuous men? 
Why not make Europe the United States of the Church, 
governed despotically by the one man on earth who was 
"inspired by God"? If anathemas failed, there were 
swords enough in Europe to carry out his plan. That, 
literally, was the vision which filled the feverish imagi- 
nation of Gregory VII. when he looked down from his 
throne over the world. 

It was the dream of a soldier-monk, tmchecked by 
understanding of men or accurate knowledge of history. 
Such reformers as Cardinal Damiani and Abbot Didier 
resented Gregory's aims and procedure : they were most 
appreciated by women like the Countess Mathilda. 
Hildebrand is said to have been a learned man, but we 
have cause to take with reserve mediaeval compliments 
of this kind. He knew the Bible well, and was steeped 

Hildebrand 151 

in the congenial atmosphere of the Old Testament. 
He knew Church-history and law well: as they were 
told at the Lateran. DoUinger has shown that his 
principal Heutenants in the work of reform — Bishop 
Anselm of Lucca (a second Anselm), Bishop Bonitho, 
and Cardinal Deusdedit — ^were unscrupulous in their 
use of historical and canonical documents, and that 
Gregory relied on these as well as on the older forgeries. * 
I am, however, chiefly concerned with the limitations 
of his knowledge, and will observe only that his letters, 
written in robust and inelegant Latin, give no indication 
of culture beyond this close acquaintance with very 
dubious history and law. The Arab civilization had 
by this time enkindled some intellectual life in Europe : 
men were not far from the age of Ab^lard. But in this 
new speculative life Gregory had no share. If we find 
him, with apparent Uberality, acquitting B6renger in 
1049 and 1079, we must ascribe it rather to incapacity 
and disinclination for speculative matters. 

This restriction and inaccuracy of culture strength- 
ened Gregory in his peculiar ideal, and it was much 
the same with his poor judgment of character, which 
brought many a disaster on him. Probably men like 
Hildebrand and Damiani enjoyed a physical debility 
in regard to sex-life, and sincerely failed to realize that 

^Das PapsUhum (1892), ch. ii., § 2. See also P. Roquain's La Pc^ 
PauU au moyen Age. Roquain observes, leniently, that Gregory was 
"not entirely exempt from reproach in the use of means to attain his 
ends" (p. 127) and fell into " excesses tm worthy of his great soul" (p. 
131). In his famous letter to the Bishop of Metz (viii., 21) Gregory 
omits an essential part of a passage which he quotes from Gelasius 
and materially alters its meaning. When we further find him writing 
(ix., 2) that "evefn a lie that is told for a good purpose in the cause of 
peace is not wholly free from blame," we fear that he was not far from 
the maxim that the end justifies the means. 

152 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the abolition of clerical marriage would inevitably lead 
to worse evils. The ideal they worked for — the estab- 
lishment of a spiritual army dead to every hiunan afiPec- 
tion, and therefore incorruptible — was magnificent but 
impossible. Similarly, in the campaign against simony, 
Gregory never realized the roots of the evil. Bishops 
were politicians, the supporters or thwarters of the 
counsels of princes; intellectual culture was, in fact, 
almost confined to bishops and abbots, and their advice 
was (apart from their wealth, their troops, and their 
feudal dutie s) needed as much as that of unlettered 
iers. Hence princes had a real and deep interest 
in their appointment. The intrigue for poUtical power 
at that very time of the great prelates of Germany 
was notorious. If Gregory had at least confined his 
strictures to simony in the strict sense, he might 
have had some prospect of success, for his cause was 
obviously just. But by his attack on "investiture"' 
he would take away from princes the control of some 
of their most powerful, and often most mischievous, 

Yet, instead of seeking to deprive bishops and abbots 
of wealth and troops and political influence, Hildebrand 
wanted them to have more. He encouraged Anselm 
of Lucca to lead the Tuscan troops; he proposed in 
person to lead the Christian armies against the Turks. 
Throughout life he called for more men and more 
money, and he never hesitated an instant to set swords 
flying if he could gain his religious aim by that means. 

' The secular ruler had long been accustomed to bestow the croader 
and ring on his nominee for a bishopric, and this was known as "investi- 
ture." The practice tmdoubtedly led to much simony and to the 
appointment of imworthy men, but, as the event proved, a comp tmise 
was possible. • • 

Hildebrand 153 

He was as warlike as a full-blooded Norman. Bishop 
Mathew calls him "truculent," and reminds us how, 
before he became Pope, Abbot Didier wanted to punish 
an abbot, who had gouged out the eyes of some of his 
monks for their sins, but Hildebrand protected the 
man and afterwards made him a bishop. Didier and 
Damiani were equally shocked at his political activity.. 
He scorned the distinction between spiritual and tem- 
poral things — except ,:\*hen he was endeavouring to keep 
laymen iu^t^eir j^roper place — and argued repeatedly 
that, if a Pope had supreme power in matters of re- 
ligion, he very cleariy had it in the less important con- 
cerns of earth : if a Pope could open and close the gates 
of heaven, he could most assuredly open and close the 
gates of earthly kingdoms. He went so far as to say 
that "all worldly things, be they honours, empires, 
kingdoms, principalities, or duchies, " he could bestow 
on whomsoever he wished. * On this ground he, as we 
shall see, grasped the flimsiest pretexts for claiming a 
kingdom as a fief of the Roman See, relying often on 
forged or perverted texts, and he quite clearly aimed 
at bringing all the countries in Christendom under the 
feudal lordship of the Papacy, to be bestowed for "obe- 
dience" and withdrawn for "disobedience" at the will 
of the Pope. I do not admit that he was ambitious, 
even ambitious for his See. He believed that this sacer- 
docracy was willed by God and was the only means of 
maintaining religion and morality in Europe. But 
there were htunan aspects of these questions which 
Gregory ignored, and his bitter and numerous opponents 
retorted that he was a fool or a fanatic. 
This ideal did not merely grow in Gregory's mind in 

■ Sp tch to the Roman synod of the year 1 080 (Migne, voL cxlviii., 
coL 81^). Compare £p., viii., 21. 

154 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the heat of his combats. It is seen in his earliest letters. 
Before he was consecrated he wrote to remind "the 
Princes of Spain" that that cotmtry belonged to the 
Roman See : that the Popes had never abandoned their 
right to it, even when it was held by the Moors: and 
that the kings who were now wresting it from the Moors 
held their kingdoms "on behalf of St. Peter" {ex parte 
S. Petri) and on condition that they rendered feudal 
military service when simimoned to do so.' A few 
weeks later he wrote to Duke Godfrey, referring to 
Henry IV.: "If he returns hatred for love, and shows 
contempt for Almighty God for the honour conferred 
on him, the imprecation which rtms, ' Cursed is he that 
refraineth his sword from blood, ' will not, with God's 
help, fall on ttj."* In June he told Beatrice and Ma- 
thilda that he would resist the King, if necessary, "to the 
shedding of blood. "^ In the same month he compelled 
Landulph of Benevento and Richard of Capua to swear 
fealty to the Roman See. In November he told Lan- 
franc, the greatest prelate of England, that he was 
astounded at his "audacity" (Jrons) in neglecting 
Papal orders.^ In December he wrote to a French 
bishop that if King Philip did not amend his ways he 
would smite the French people with "the sword of a 
general anathema" and they would "refuse to obey 
him further, "s A remarkable record for the first nine 
months of his Pontificate. 

I shall not in the least misrepresent his work if I 
dismiss other matters briefly and enlarge on his attempts 
to realize his sacerdocratic ideal : especially his struggle 
with Henry IV. His campaign against simony and 
clerical incontinence fills the whole period of his Pon- 
tificate, but cannot be described in detail. Year by 

'£p., L, 7. »£/>., L, 9. 3 1., II. ^I., 3i« *Lt35- 

Hildebrand 155 

year his handful of Italian bishops — ^remoter bishops 
generally ignored his drastic orders to come to Rome — 
met in Lenten sjmods at Rome, held their lighted 
candles while he read the ever-lengthening list of the 
excommunicated, and shuddered at his vigorous impre- 
cations. Then his legates went out over Europe, but 
few prelates were willing or able to promulgate the 
decrees they brought, and the campaign succeeded 
only where it could rely on the staves of the Patarenes 
or the swords of the Pope's allies. Other episcopal 
ftmctions, such as settlements of jurisdiction, occupy 
a relatively small part of his correspondence. It is 
enough to say that his eye ranged from Lincoln to 
Constantinople, from Stockholm to Carthage. 

In Italy, his chief concern was to concentrate the 
southern States luider his lead and form a military 
bulwark against the northerners. The Roman militia 
was strengthened: the petty princes of Benevento and 
Capua were persuaded that their shrtmken territories 
were safer from the aggressions of Robert Guiscard 
if they paid allegiance to St. Peter: Mathilda of Tuscany 
did not even need to be persuaded to hold her troops 
at his disposal. It would be safe to say that Italy 
alone would have wrecked Gregory's policy but for the 
lucky accident of Tuscany passing to the pious Mathilda. 
She dung to Gregory so tenaciously that his opponents 
affected to see a scandal in the association. 

The chief thorn in his side was Robert Guiscard, who 
had foimded a kingdom in southern Italy and refused 
to do homage. He laid waste the territory of the 
Pope's allies, and smiled at the anathema put on him. 
Gregory, as usual, turned to the sword. The Eastern 
Emperor had asked aid against the Turks, and Gregory 
summoned all Christian princes to contribute troops. 

156 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

He would lead the army in person, he said : supported 
by the aged Beatrice and the tender Mathilda. The 
northern princes smiled, and the plan of a crusade came 
to naught. But it was not merely concern for Constan- 
tinople which made Gregory dangerously ill when his 
plan miscarried. Historians generally overlook his 
letter to William of Burgimdy,' in which he plainly 
states that he wants the troops for the purpose of in- 
timidating — ^if not conquering — Robert: "perhaps," he 
says, they may afterwards proceed to the East. He was 
still more irritated when Robert himself entered into 
an alliance with Constantinople. Gregory angrily 
wrote to ask the King of Denmark to send his son with 
an army and wrest the south of Italy from the "vile 
heretics" who held it.* 

He was similarly thwarted in nearly every coimtry 
in Europe, and his anathemas were terrible to hear. 
I have already referred to his haughty language to 
Lanfranc, yet the English bishops continued, year after 
year, to ignore the imperious stmimons to attend his 
Roman synods. In 1079 Gregory wrote to Lanfranc 
that he understood that the King prevented them from 
coming, and was surprised that the "superstitious love" 
or fear of any man should come between him and his 
duty.^ Lanfranc still evaded, almost fooled, him, and, 
when Gregory threatened to suspend him, affected to 
be engaged in examining the claims of an Anti-Pope 
whom Henry IV. had set up. With William himself 
Gregory was bitterly disappointed. When, in 1080, 
he ordered the King to collect the arrears of Peter's 
Pence and acknowledge his feudal obligations to Rome, 
William somewhat contemptuously replied that he 
would forward the money, but would pay allegiance to 

' I., 46. » II., 51. » VI., 30. 

Hildebrand 157 

no man. Gregory was so angry that he told his legates 
that the money was no use without the ''honour.*'^ 

The bishops of France were equally deaf to his annual 
summons to his Lenten synods and his orders that they 
should punish their King. He threatened, not only 
to pronounce an interdict, but that he would "endeav- 
our in every way to take the kingdom of France from 
him."* A similar threat of military action was sent 
to Spain. King Alphonso of Leon married a relative, 
and Gregory wrote to the abbot of Cluny that if the 
King did not obey his orders and dismiss her he would 
"not think it too great a trouble to go ourselves to 
Spain and concert severe and painful action [evidently 
military action] against him.'*^ This policy of pro- 
moting or blessing invasions and usurpations was 
carried out in the case of smaller kingdoms. King 
Solomon was ejected from Hungary and appealed to 
Rome. Gregory blessed the usurper (who craftily 
promised to be a good son of the Church) and told 
Solomon that he had deserved the calamity by receiv- 
ing his kingdom, which had been given to St. Peter by 
the earUer King Stephen, at the hand of Henry IV. ^ 
Then Ladislaus of Hungary seized Dalmatia and 
sought to strengthen his position by paying fealty to 
the Pope for it ; so that, when the Dalmatians attempted 
to recover their independence, Gregory denoimced 
them as " rebels against the Blessed Peter. "^ Lastly, 
when the Russian king was displaced by his brothers, 
and promised to acknowledge the feudal supremacy of 

» VII., I. • II.. 5 and 32. i VTIL, 2. 

4 In both statements of fact Gregory was wrong. Stephen had 
merely accepted a consecrated banner from the Anti-Pope Silvester II.; 
and Solomon had voluntarily chosen Henry as his suzerain. 

» VIII., 4 

158 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Rome if he were restored, Gregory induced Boledaus 
of Poland to restore him. 

If this kind of procedure incurred the censure of 
Gregory's great friend and successor, Abbot Didier, 
we can easily luiderstand the violent language of his 
opponents. These are usually writers of the Lombard- 
German faction, and we must now endeavour to 
disentangle from the contradictory narratives of the par- 
tisan writers the truth about his relations with Henry 
IV. The facts I have hitherto given are taken from the 
authentic letters of Gregory, '^'tj^^ 

Henry IV. was a boy at the time of his father's death, 
and it is beyond dispute that the prelates and nobles 
who quarrelled for power shamefully neglected, or 
consciously misdirected, his education. When he came 
to the throne he was a wilful, loose-living, and imperious 
young man, forced into marriage with a woman whom 
he disliked. Exhortations to abandon simony and 
avoid evil companions fell lightly on such ears, and, as 
we saw, Gregory's early letters threatened war. Five 
of Henry's favoiuites were under sentence of excom- 
munication, yet the young King would not part with 
them. Gregory turned to the bishops, but they flatly 
refused to allow his legates to call a synod in Germany, 
and his excommunication of the Archbishop of Ham- 
burg only embittered them. Suddenly, however, be- 
fore the end of 1073, Gregory was delighted to receive 
a most htunble and submissive letter from Henry, and 
legates were sent to absolve him. 

The cause of this action of the imperious yoimg King 
gives us at once a most important clue to what is called 
the later triumph of Gregory at Canossa. The popular 
impression that that famous scene represented a tri- 
umph of spiritual power over the passions of man is 

Hildebrand 159 

wholly wrong. It was an episode in a political struggle. 
Henry's kingdom embraced Saxony and Swabia; and 
the Saxons cherished a sombre memory of their recent 
incorporation, while Rudolph of Swabia had a mind 
to make profit by the troubles of his suzerain and 
astutely courted the favour of the Pope. Gregory 
could not fail to grasp the situation, and his struggle 
against Henry is a series of attempts by the Pope to 
foment and take advantage of Henry's diflficulties 
with his vassals, ending in the complete triumph of 
the King. 

Henry's submission in 1074 meant that there was a 
dangerous rebellion in Saxony. The ICing did not, in 
fact, part entirely with his excommimicated favoiuites, 
and the anathema on them was renewed at the sjmod 
of 1075, which also laid a heavy censure on "any em- 
peror, duke, marquis, count, or any temporal lord, or 
any secular person whatsoever," who claimed the right 
of investiture. Henry remained friendly: the Saxon 
war dragged on. In October Henry was sending le- 
gates to Rome to confer with the Pope, who had 
hinted at compromise on the subject of investitures. 
But the Saxon rebellion suddenly came to an end, 
and three legates were now sent with a less pleas- 
ant message: probably a peremptory claim of the 
imperial crown. Henry had not only a tmited Ger- 
many, but a strong party in Lombardy. Herlembald 
was killed, and the Patarenes held in check. More- 
over, the recalcitrant bishops were now joined by the 
Archbishop of Ravenna (who had been hastily ex- 
commtmicated by Gregory for not attending the Len- 
ten synod) and Cardinal Hugh Candidus. Elated 
with this support, the yoimg King acted wilfully. He 
sent one of his excommunicated nobles to Lombardy, 

i6o Crises in the History of the Papacy 

crushed the Patarenes, and set up a third Archbishop 
of Milan, Tedald. ' 

Gregory was alarmed at this combination and at 
first temporized. He invited Tedald to come to Rome 
for a polite discussion of his claims; he sent Henry a 
'* doubtful blessing" and would compromise on investi- 
tures and consider his further demands, if he aban- 
doned the excommunicated nobles.* But he gave 
Henry's envoys, to whom he handed the letter, a ver- 
bal message of a more drastic nature. He threatened 
to depose Henry for his ''horrible crimes," and there is 
good reason to suppose that these "crimes" were, in 
part at least, the slanderous fictions of Henry's enemies.* 
Both were men of fiery and indiscreet impulses, and 
this impolitic act of Gregory kindled the conflagration. 

Meantime a remarkable experience befell Gregory 
at Rome, and it is not unlikely that he held Henry 
responsible for it; though it is practically certain that 
Henry was wholly innocent. The increasing difficul- 
ties of the Pope encouraged the anti-Puritans at Rome, 
and one of them, Cenci, a notorious bandit, burst into 
the church of Sta. Maria on the Esquiline while Greg- 
ory was saying midnight mass there on Christmas 
day (1075). His men scattered the attendants, and 
one of them struck the Pope with a sword, causing a 
wound on the forehead. Gregory was stripped of his 
sacerdotal robes, thrust on a horse behind one of the 

' There was a Gregorian archbishop in exile. The actual prelate 
may not have been zealous enough for Henry. 

* lii., 10. 

* A good deal of controversy has been expended on the question 
whether Gregory did or did not threaten at this stage to depose Henry. 
Gregory's letter xxvi. (not in his Register, but of undoubted authenticity) 
to " the German People" expressly admits, or boasts, that he did. For 
further evidence see Dr. Martens, Gregor VII,, i., 86-91. 

Hildebrand i6i 

soldiers, and hurried to Cenci's fortified tower. Some 
noble matron was taken with him — one of the strangest 
circumstances of the whole mysterious episode — and 
she boimd his wounds as he lay in the tower, while 
Cenci threatened to kill him unless he handed over the 
keys of the Papal treasury. It is fairiy clear that the 
motive was robbery. Meantime the bells and tnmipets 
had spread the alarm through Rome, and the militia 
beset the tower and relieved the Pope. This remark- 
able picture of a winter's night in the capital of Christen- 
dom ends with Gregory, who cannot have been severely 
woimded, calmly returning to the altar and finishing 
his mass. 

Henry's envoys had left Rome before Christmas, 
and it is therefore a mistake to suppose that the mes- 
sage they brought from Gregory had any reference to 
the violence of Cenci. They reached the court at 
Goslar on January i, 1076, and we can easily believe 
that they would not moderate the offensiveness of the 
oral message. Gregory had a deliberate policy of pre- 
ferring oral to written messages. There may at times 
have been an advantage in this, but in the present in- 
stance it was gravely imprudent. Henry's friends urged 
him to avenge the insult, and three weeks later a synod 
of twenty-six German bishops, with a large number ol 
abbots, met at Worms and declared Gregory deposed. 
The irregularity of his election, the despotism of his 
conduct, and what was described as his scandalous 
association with women, were the chief reasons assigned 
for this action. The decree was sent to the insurgent 
bishops of north Italy, who met in coimcil and en- 
dorsed it, and a priest of the church of Parma volun- 
teered to serve the sentence on Gregory. He reached 
Rome at a moment when Gregory was presiding at a 

i62 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

large sjmod in the Lateran Palace, and boldly read the 
sentence to the assembled bishops. Lay nobles drew 
their swords upon the audacious priest, but Gr^[ory 
restrained them and bade them hear the words of Henry. 
His intemperate and insulting letter — so intemperate 
that the Pope could easily remain calm and dignified — 
could receive only one reply. The King and all his 
supporters were excommimicated, and Gregory issued 
a not unworthy letter "To All Christians"' informing 
them that the subjects of King Henry of Germany 
were released from their allegiance. 

There can be no doubt that Henry IV. had merited 
a sentence of excommunication, and it is a nice point 
whether a King could continue to rule his territory 
when he was thus cut oflf from communication with his 
subjects. We may, at all events, gravely question 
whether the Pope was either politic or just in going on 
formally to depose the King, and, as the news of this 
unprecedented action spread through Christendom, 
even religious prelates shook their heads. Throughout 
the rest of his life Gregory had repeatedly to defend 
his conduct, not against the partisans of Henry, but 
against some of his own supporters. His chief apology 
is contained in a letter to the Bishop of Metz* and 
is invalid and illogical. He reUes on a forged letter 
of St. Peter, and he appeals to the excommtmication 
of Theodosius by St. Ambrose and the " deposition " of 
Childeric by Pope Zachary in 753; the former was in 
no sense a precedent, and in the latter case the Pope 
merely confirmed the design of Pippin and the Franks. 
There was no precedent whatever for deposition, and 
Gregory is severely censured even by modem writers 

« lii., 6. • ViiL, 21. 

Hildebrand 163 

for not observing the canonical forms in his excommtini- 
cation of Henry. ' 

Gregory at once prepared for war. The Duchess 
Beatrice died in April, and the devoted Mathilda, who 
was so pointedly insulted, though not named, in her 
royal cousin's manifesto, put the troops of Tuscany 
at the Pope's disposal. Gregory also tried to reconcile 
the Normans with each other and weld them into a 
common army for the defence of Rome. But his chief 
reliance was on the Germans themselves. He knew 
well, when he excommimicated Henry, that the em- 
bittered Saxons would leap with joy at the fresh pre- 
text of rebellion, and the intriguing Swabians would 
secretly welcome the censure. Henry foimd himself 
very soon on the road to Canossa. He summoned two 
cptmcils in rapid succession, but their defiance of the 
Pope brought him Httle pleasure when he noted the 
small number of his supporters. Saxony threw oflf 
his yoke at once, and prelates and nobles began to fall 
away from his cause. Gregory pressed his advantage 
with fiery energy, showering letters upon the German 
clergy and people, and in the middle of October a large 
body of the nobles and prelates (chiefly Saxon and 
Swabian) met at Tribur, near Darmstadt, to consider 
the position of the kingdom. Two Papal legates and 
Rudolph of Swabia presided, and Henry watched the 
proceedings from the other side of the river. 

From this stage onward we are compell^ to consult 
the contemporary chroniclers, and it is almost impos- 
sible to disentangle the truth from their contradictory 
and mendacious statements. It is dear that for seven 

* See C. Mirbt*s special study of the conflict, Die Absetmng Heinrichs 
IV. (1888), p. 103. 

1 64 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

days the Diet held long debate on the situation. Un- 
doubtedly they wished to depose Henry, but, appar- 
ently, they were unwilling to recognize in the Pope 
this dangerous power of deposing kings, and the Diet 
seems to have ended with an injunction to Henry to 
make peace with the Pope. According to the monk 
Lambert of Hersfeld, who seems to have gathered into 
his Chronicle all the wild cloister-gossip of the time, 
the Diet decided that, according to the ''Laws of the 
Palace, " — there were no such laws at that time, — Henry 
forfeited his crown if he remained excommunicated a 
year and a day, and commanded him to retire into 
private life at Spires until Gregory should come to 
Germany and decide the case. The Gregorian writer, 
Bishop Bonitho,^ contrives in this instance to improve 
on Lambert; he tells us that, if Henry submitted, the 
nobles would accompany him to Rome, where he would 
receive the imperial crown, and they would then sweep 
the Normans out of south Italy. One suspects that 
in this the Bishop of Sutri is betraying a design of 
Gregory which was certainly not endorsed by the Diet. 

The most authentic evidence is the Promissio (or 
Letter of Apology) which, at the dictation of the Diet, 
Henry submitted to the Pope.^ He expressed regret 
for any affront he may have put on the dignity of the 
Pope, promised obedience on spiritual matters, and 
declared that on certain other grave matters he would 
vindicate his innocence. When this short and dry 
letter was eventually handed to the Pope by one of the 
chief prelates of Germany, Gregory was outraged to 
find that its concluding sentence ran: "But it befitteth 

* Liber ad Amicum, 1. viii. 

* A translation may be read in Delarc, iii., 252. 

Hildebrand 165 


thy Holiness not to ignore the things repeated about 
thee which bring scandal on the Church, but to remove 
this scruple from the public conscience and provide in 
thy wisdom for the tranquillity of the ChiuxJi and the 
kingdom." Gregorian writers insist that this was 
added by Henry to the draft approved by the Diet, 
but this is by no means certain. Henry was not a 
broken man. He had a considerable force with him, 
and Rudolph of Swabia evidently found that it would 
be no easy task to displace him. The edict which 
Henry published at the same time, declaring that he 
had been misled when he obtained a censure of the 
Pope, gives one the same impression. He had still a 
powerful following, and it was agreed to avert civil 
war by reconciliation and by inviting Gregory to preside 
at a Diet at Augsburg. 

Gregory, in spite of the advice of his friends (except 
Mathilda, who sptirred him on), at once set out for the 
north. His impetuous journey was, however, arrested 
in the north of Italy by the news that the German 
nobles had failed to send an escort for him, and that 
Henry himself was crossing the Alps with a large army. 
Mathilda persuaded him to retire to her impregnable 
fortress of Canossa, and there, about the end of Janu- 
ary, Henry enacted his historic part of penitent. 

Here the chroniclers are hopelessly discordant, and 
the full picturesque narrative of Lambert of Hersfeld, 
on which some historians still implicitly rely, has been 
riddled by modem critics.' It is clear that Henry 
wished to keep the Pope out of Germany, and he there- 

' One recent student. Dr. Albert Dammann (Der Sieg Heinrichs IV. 
in Kanossa, 1907 and 1909), goes to the other extreme, and concludes 
that Henry blockaded Canossa with a large army and compelled the 
Pope to withdraw his censure, without a single act of penance. 

1 66 Crises in the History of the Papaqr 

fore hastily crossed the Alps in the depth of winter. It 
is clear that a "vast army" (in the words of Lambert 
himself) gathered about him in rebellious Lombardy, 
but he pushed on with a few followers (incidentally 
admitted by Lambert) to Canossa. It is clear that 
Gregory, on the other hand, was desperately bent on 
presiding over a coimcil in Germany, and shocked his 
friends by his obstinacy in refusing to be reconciled^; 
he had condenmed Henry without trial, but he would 
not absolve him without trial. And, obviously in- 
accurate as the narrative of Lambert is, ' it seems to me 
certain that Henry went through the form of i)enance 
on the icy platform before the gate of Canossa. In the 
letter written immediately afterwards to the nobles 
and prelates of Germany,^ Gregory describes Henry 
as doing penance for three days, in bare feet and wool- 
len robe, before the gates. However impolitic and irri- 
tating it was for Gregory to write such a letter, Dr. 
Dammann seems to me to fail to impeach its genuine- 
ness. Indeed in his great speech to the Roman synod 
of 1080, when he excommtmicated Henry a second 
time, Gregory says that in 1076 Henry came to him 
"in confusion and himiiliation" at Canossa to ask 

Thus the scene which has ever since impressed the 
imagination of Europe is in substance authentic; 
though we are by no means compelled to think that 
Henry literally stood in the snow for three whole days. 
But the common interpretation of the scene is quite 

» £/>., iv., 12. 

" For instance he describes a dramatic scene in which Henry shrinks 
from receiving the sacred host, whereas Gregory says (Ep., iv., 12) that 
he admitted Henry to communion. His story is full of contradictions. 

« Iv., 12. 

Hildebrand 167 

false. It was not a spiritual tritimph, but a political 
pseudo-triumph. In reality, it was Henry who tri- 
umphed; and one can imagine him jesting merrily 
afterwards about his bare feet and coarse robe of pen- 
itence. He promised to amend his ways, and then 
proceeded to make a tour of Italy in light-hearted con- 
fidence and with all his old wilfulness. He refused to 
interfere when a Papal Legate was thrown into prison 
at Piacenza; and he refused to provide Gregory with an 
escort when the Germans invited the Pope to come and 
preside at their new Diet. * Gregory soon realized that 
the war had merely passed into a new and more difficult 
phase, and we must follow it swiftly to its tragic end 
in the utter defeat of the Pope. 

Gregory sent two Legates to the Diet of Forchheim 
on March 13th, where, with their consent, Rudolph 
of Swabia was declared King of Germany. The Papal 
Legates exacted that he should not claim the succession 
for his family — ^apparently Germany was to be the next 
fief of the Roman See — and should abandon investi- 
ture. When Henry pressed the Pope to excommimicate 
Rudolph, he replied that he had not yet heard Rudolph's 
case — an "unworthy subterfuge," Bishop Mathew 
justly remarks — ^and Henry set out for Germany. In 
the three-years struggle which followed, the Pope 
adopted a policy which few historians hesitate to con- 
demn. He sent Legates repeatedly, claiming that he 
alone was the judge: that "if the See of the Blessed 

■ Gr^;orian writers said afterwards that Henry's royal dignity was 
not restored at Canossa. In point of fact he actually signed his pro- 
mise of reform as "king** and he refused to take an oath on the express 
ground that the word of a king of Germany sufficed. Gregory made 
no complaint on this score until years afterwards, though Henry re- 
sumed his royal character the moment he left Canossa. 

1 68 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Peter decides and judges heavenly and spirittial things, 
how much the more shall it judge things earthly and 
secular/'^ He even promised the crown to whichever 
of the combatants should respect his Legates: a remark- 
able test of the justice he promised to administer. 
He evidently hoped that Rudolph would win, but 
feared that the victory might fall to Henry ; and, above 
all, he desired to judge the princes of the earth. At 
last the Saxons in turn began to abuse him. His Le- 
gates, they said, were oflFering his verdict to the highest 
bidder — assuredly without his knowledge — ^and his 
policy was tmintelligible. Bishops were saying that 
the Papacy had become **the tail of the Church." 

At the Lenten synod of the year 1080 representatives 
of both princes came before Gregory and his bishops, 
and the great decision was taken. Henry was found 
guilty of "disobedience," and, after a long and eloquent 
speech, Gregory excommunicated him once more and 
confirmed Rudolph in the kingdom of Germany. 
Bishop Bonitho^ tells us that Henry had sent an ulti- 
matum: if Gregory did not at once condemn Rudolph 
he would appoint another Pope. This is, apparently, 
the real inspiration of the synod and of Gregory's fiery 
speech.^ Henry's partisans retorted by excommuni- 
cating Gregory and consecrating Guibert of Ravenna 
as Anti-Pope, and, as Rudolph fell in battle in October, 
the Gregorian cause was in a lamentable plight. Greg- 
ory had, in his extremity, overlooked all the crimes 
of Robert Guiscard — "for the present" he quaintly 

« Iv., 24. » Bk. ix. 

» It may be read in Migne, vol. cxlviii., col. 816. It includes the 
imprecation on Henry, "May he gain no victory as long as he lives," 
and again asserts that all honours and powers are ac the disposal of the 

Hildebrand 169 

said in the treaty — and made an alliance with him, 
but Robert was still engaged in the East, and Henry's 
troops made great havoc in Mathilda's dominions. 
Yet Gregory repeated his excommunication of the 
King, and wrote letters all over Europe to defend his 
action and obtain money and troops. 

Several years passed in this indecisive warfare, 
Henry wearing down the Tuscan troops and cutting 
off supplies from Rome. At length, toward the end 
of March, 1084, the Romans, weary of the long siege, 
opened their gates to Henry, and Gregory shut himself 
in the impregnable fortress of Sant' Angelo. From the 
windows, for two dreary months, Gregory had to watch 
the progress of the victorious Imperialists and the 
triumph of the Anti-Pope, Clement III. In May he 
was elated by the message that Henry had fled and 
Robert Guiscard was marching to Rome with a large 
force. But his joy was brief. A brawl with the 
Romans let loose the half-barbaric Normans, and the 
city was visited with one of the most pitiless raids in 
its eventful history. Thousands of the Romans were 
sold into slavery: sacred virgins and matrons were 
savagely raped: large districts of the city were burned 
to the ground. For this the infuriated Romans cast 
the whole blame on the Pope, and he was forced to 
retire with Robert. In penury and impotence he rode 
into the abbey of Monte Cassino, where Abbot Didier 
would hardly fail to remind him that they who appeal 
to the sword are apt to perish by the sword, and then 
on to Salerno. Surrounded by the shrunken remains 
of his supporters he made a last appeal to the Christian 
world to espouse his cause, and he feebly cast forth 
his last anathemas. But the fight was lost, and he 
wearily drew his last breath on May 25, 1085. "I 

nflt- Crises in the History of the Papacy 

have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die 
in exile," he said. It was not wholly true. He was 
exiled by the people of Rome, whose devastated homes 
made them heap curses on his iron policy. History 
honours the purity of his ultimate aim, the heroism 
with which he pursued it, the greatness, with all its 
defects, of his character ; it sternly condemns the means 
he employed, the tortuous and dangerous character of 
his reasoning, the appalling claim that kingdoms ^ ere 
toys in his hand. He failed; but he had, in reality, 
so strengthened the frame of the Papacy that it would 
take an earthquake to shake it. 



THAT Papal policy or ideal of which we have traced 
the development in the minds of the greater 
Popes attains its fullest expansion during the Pontificate 
of Innocent III. Historians usually assign the year 
1300 as the date of the culmination of the Papal system, 
but it had in reality attained its full stature under In- 
nocent III. It did indeed make its last impressive 
display of world-power under Boniface VIII., but there 
had been no material contribution to its frame since 
the death of Innocent, and the thirteenth century had 
fostered the growth of the influences which were de- 
stined to undo it. In the fourteenth century came 
the demoralizing residence in Avignon and the Great 
Schism: in the fifteenth century the renaissance of 
culture and development of civic life, which enfeebled 
the Popes, and strengthened their subjects, were com- 
pleted: in the sixteenth centtuy Luther and Calvin 
smote the colossus. Innocent III. is the last great 
maker of the Papacy. 

The work of the eighteen Popes who occupied the 
throne between the death of Gregory VTI. and the 
election of Innocent might not ineptly be described in 
a line: they sought, and failed, to wield the heavy 
weapons of Hildebrand. In virtue of the falsified 



172 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

letters, canons, charters, and chronicles which were 
now accepted throughout Europe, they proclaimed 
that they had the disposal of earthly kingdoms no less 
than of seats in heaven, and they thus brought on 
themselves a century of strife in which only the stronger 
men could find much time for strictly Pontifical duties. 
They were men of sober life and, generally, high char- 
acter, yet the very nature of their ideal involved such 
struggles that the Papacy had to await a fortunate 
conjunction of circumstances before the ideal could be 
realized. The conflict with Henry IV. continued until, 
his two sons having been persuaded to rebel against 
him and his second wife encouraged to besmirch his 
reputation, before the assembled prelates of Christen- 
dom, with charges as foul as they were feeble in evi- 
dence, he, in 1097, quitted Italy for ever. Then Urban 
II., who was responsible for this gross travesty of 
spiritual justice, cleared Rome by means of Norman 
swords and rallied Christendom about him by a de- 
claration of the First Crusade. But so tainted a legacy 
of peace could not last. Henry V. proved more exact- 
ing than his father, and another prolonged struggle 
absorbed the energy of the Popes until the fifty years' 
war over investiture was settled by a compromise at 
Worms in 1122.^ 

Bernard of Clairvaux, rather than the successive 
Popes, was the spiritual master of Europe in the com- 
parative peace after Worms. During nearly the whole 
of the second half of the twelfth century the Papacy 

' The clergy were to be free to elect their bishop, though in Germany 
the election had to take place in the presence of the Emperor or his 
representatives; this was a virtual retention of the imperial veto. In- 
vestiture with ring and crozier was replaced by a touch with the royal 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 173 

was distracted by the incessant revolts of the Romans. 
The streets, even the churches, of Rome were stained 
with blood, year after year, and the Popes repeatedly 
fled. The rise of Frederic Barbarossa complicated 
the struggle, and the Popes had little opportunity to 
exercise the powers they had won, without thinking of 
any extension of their claims. At last, in 1198, the 
Papacy once more fell to a man of commanding per- 
sonality and was lifted to the zenith of its power. 

Lothario de'Conti di Segni was bom about the year 
1 160. His father was Count Trasimondo of Segni: 
his mother belonged to the noble Roman family of the 
Scotti, which included several cardinals of the anti- 
Imperialist school. After receiving an elementary 
education at Rome, he was sent to Paris for theology, 
and to Bologna for law. The scholastic movement 
was now stimulating Europe and creating great schools ; 
indeed Pope Alexander III. had, though not from cul- 
tural motives, fostered the movement by favouring 
the activity of free teachers. Profane letters were, 
however, still little cultivated. Lothario took a degree 
in the liberal arts, but he was soon wholly absorbed in 
theology and canon law; the correct and virile Latin 
of his letters is very far from the classical models. 
Under the Pontificate of his maternal tmcle, Clement 
III., he returned to Rome a young man of the most 
ascetic character and most finished ecclesiastical cul- 
ture. He was made a canon of St. Peter's, and, in his 
twenty-ninth year, a cardinal of the Roman Church. 

The Pontificate of Clement ended, apparently, the 
long struggle of the Popes and the Romans. The 
Roman nobles were as turbulent as ever, but one finds 
a more respectable element of dissension in the city 
at this time. The democratic ideas of that brilliant 

174 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

and too little appreciated thinker, Arnold of Brescia, 
had taken root in Rome, and a Republic, with a Senate 
of fifty-six members, had been established in the Capi- 
tol. Hadrian IV. had blighted this premature experi- 
ment by an interdict in 1 155, but the struggle continued 
and the Popes lived little in the capital until the year 
1 188. Clement, a courtly and diplomatic Roman, 
made peace with his countrymen, and damped the 
democratic ardour by a shower of gold and of eccles- 
iastical favours. The Papacy resumed the govern- 
ment of the city, and the nominal power of the Senate 
was allowed to pass into the hands of one man, "the 
Senator." Clement died in 11 90, and, as his successor, 
Celestine III., was a member of the Orsini family, which 
was bitterly hostile to the Scotti, there was no room in 
the Lateran for Lothario Conti. Nepotism was now so 
far accepted in the Papal palace that we shall find 
Innocent himself following the tradition. The leisure 
was fortunate in one respect, as Lothario used it for 
the purpose of writing a book. On Contempt of the Worlds 
which gives us a most interesting revelation of his in- 
nermost thoughts at the time when he became Pope. 
The book is a distillation of the -extreme monastic 
views of the time; it is full of fables, and it depicts 
man as the very vilest thing in a world which was made 
solely for the disdain of the ascetic. It was from this 
morbidly tinted sanctuary that Lothario Conti surveyed 
the life of his time, which he was soon summoned to 
rule. In September, 1197, Henry VL, who had duly 
incurred the imperial legacy of excommunication, died 
and left his kingdom to his baby -boy Frederic: and 
on January 8, 11 98, Lothario Conti, in the prime of 
life and the most sombre stage of his meditations, be- 
came Innocent III. 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 175 

Although he occupied the Papal throne only eighteen 
years, we have more than five thousand letters, or 
parts of letters, dispatched by him to all parts of Chris- 
tendom: more than five hundred of them were written 
in the first year of his Pontificate. Their range stretches 
from Ireland and Scandinavia to Cairo and Armenia. 
In that vast territory nothing of importance happened 
in which he did not intervene ; and there was hardly a 
prince or baron whom he did not excommunicate, or 
any leading coimtry which he did not place under 
interdict. His ideal was that of Gregory VII.: the 
Papal States of Europe — ^he wanted to add nearer Asia 
— trembling tmder the Roman rod. Writing to the Em- 
peror of Constantinople he elaborated his famous con- 
ception of earthly empire as the moon, shining faintly 
by light borrowed from the spiritual power. The 
Papal theory had reached its culmination, and we may 
proceed at once to attempt to compress the portentous 
activity of Innocent III. into a few compartments.* 

One naturally inquires first how this spiritual auto- 
crat confronted the democratic faction at Rome. At the 
outset he showed a little of the accommodating tem- 
per which he always held in reserve behind his profes- 
sion of rigour. His attendants flung showers of coin 
on the greedy people when he first passed between them, 
and, reluctantly, and on the lowest known scale, he 
distributed the backsheesh with which each incoming 

' Fortuoately, his work is little complicated by dispute, since his 
letters are so abundant. There is a contemporary life or panegyric 
{Gesta InnocetUii Tertit), but it must be read with caution. Of modem 
biographies the great work of Achille Luchaire (6 vols., 1904-8} has 
superseded all others; though, as it scarcely ever indicates its author- 
ities, the less discriminating work of Hurter is still useful. In English 
there is a good, but rather affected, sketch by C. H. C. Pirie-Gordon, 
Innocent the Great (1907). Milman is particularly good on Innocent III. 

176 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Pope had to win the smiles of every official in the 
Palace and the city. There were murmurs, and they 
increased when he proceeded to compel the Prefect 
(who was understood to represent the Empire) and the 
Senator (who represented the Romans) to take oaths 
of allegiance to himself. By this stroke he expelled 
the last bit of reality out of the *'free commune" of 
Rome, and cast oflF the last trace of an imperial yoke. 
He abolished the Noble Guard and the lay officials of 
the Palace: he deposed the judges appointed by the 
Senator and appointed less corrupt men : he drove the 
money-changers and merchants out of the Lateran 
courtyard, stamped on the parasites who fed on foreign 
pilgrims, and drew up a strict tariff of fees for the Papal 
services. He was by no means indiflFerent to money, 
as his fighting policy demanded enormous sums. No 
Pope could be keener on Peter's Pence, and no abbot 
or bishop dare approach him with a gift not proportion- 
ate to his wealth. But it is almost superfluous to say 
that he was a man of the most rigorous sentiment of 
justice, and, as long as he lived, the more selfish kind 
of rapacity at Rome was repressed. 

The nobles who led the democratic party, chiefly 
Giovanni Pierleone and Giovanni Capocci, looked with 
concern on his tendency and, when he put a Papal 
governor over the Maremma and the Sabina, instead 
of the one appointed by the Senate, they pressed the 
Romans to see that their privileges were being stolen. 
In 1 200 Innocent extricated himself from a difficult 
situation. Vitorchiano was threatened by Viterbo 
and declared itself a Papal fief. As Viterbo also was 
part of the patrimony, and the Romans hated it, In- 
nocent was perplexed. The Romans took the field in 
spite of him, and won ; but, as he happened to be saying 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 177 

mass at the time of the victory, it was ingeniously as- 
cribed to his prayers. In the following year, however, 
there was more serious trouble. Two small provincial 
nobles took possession of some estates on the Campagna, 
and, when Innocent ordered them to restore, they said 
that they held them of the democratic leaders, Pier- 
leone and Capocci. There was an outcry, but Inno- 
cent sent his troops to lay waste the properties of the 
two nobles in the grimmest mediaeval manner, and, in 
an eloquent speech at Rome, completely vanquished 
his critics. Then in 1202, during his customary summer 
absence, the feud of the Scotti and the Orsini broke 
out with frightful violence, and in the following year 
the antagonism to the Pope reached its height. 

Innocent had, for his own protection, greatly en- 
riched his brother Ricardo, and Ricardo had purchased 
the mortgages on the estates of one of the democrats, 
Oddo Poli. As far as we can see, Ricardo acted with 
legal correctness, but Rome was soon aroused by the 
sight of PoU and his friends coming naked to church, as 
a symbol of the ** spoliation," and democratic rhetoric 
rose to white heat. There was a popular rising; Ri- 
cardo's towering mansion was burned, and Innocent 
himself had to fly to Perentino (May, 1203). The 
Romans restored their Senate, and swore to have no 
more of this Papal nepotism and despotism, but from 
his retreat Innocent fostered the intestine quarrels 
of the victorious people, and before long the city was 
in a state of murderous anarchy. The two hundred 
mansions of its wealthier citizens were, and had been 
for ages, real fortresses, and during the whole summer 
of 1203 their castellated walls were lined with archers, 
and bands issued forth, with all the engines of war, to 
assault and bum the fortress of some neighbour. It 

178 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

still remains for some historian of the Papacy to explain 
this chronic violence and vice in the centre of Christen- 
dom during so many centuries. The trouble ended in 
the Pope resuming the government of the city, and his 
rule was further disturbed only by one of these popular 
revolts, in 1208. 

We do not fully appreciate the strength of Innocent 
unless we realize how, while his eyes wandered over the 
globe, Rome itself demanded so much attention. But 
he was not merely concerned with its misconduct. He 
organized the work of charity in the city and did some- 
thing to promote its commerce. He built a foundling 
hospital, trusting to reduce the infanticide which he 
found so common at Rome, and was very generous to 
the churches and the clergy. From his time the Popes 
began to use more and more the Palace beside St. 
Peter's, which he enlarged and fortified, and he spent 
large sums in adorning other churches and enhancing 
the splendour of the worship. But these and the other 
Roman reforms I have mentioned are the mere inci- 
dents of his domestic life, so to say. His work was the 
ruling of the world, and assuredly we must recognize a 
mind of high quality and prodigious energy when we 
read the volumes of letters that poured from the Lat- 
eran during those eighteen years, and imagine the vast 
crowds that came from every part of the world to do 
homage, to ask counsel, and to report the minutest 
circumstances of their abbeys or bishoprics or princi- 

Italy alone might have absorbed a weaker man dimng 
his earlier years. Papal rule was acknowledged — ^in 
the manner we have seen — only in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the city. Over the south and Sicily the 
widow of Henry VI. ruled in the name of her child: 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 179 

in the north were the leagues of free cities, and the 
isolated free cities, which had won independence: and 
the whole country apart from these was falling into the 
hands of the German generals whom Henry VI. had 
left there at his death. Innocent, like all the Popes 
after Hadrian, believed in the Donation of Constantine, 
to say nothing of the Donations of Pippin and Charle- 
magne and Otto and Mathilda. Italy belonged almost 
entirely to the Papacy, and must be recovered. Some 
historians hail Innocent as a great apostle of the " Italia 
Una" ideal, and he sometimes presses on particular 
towns "the interests of the whole of Italy." It is, 
however, absurd to associate his feeling with the later 
ideal of Italian imity. He cared for the unity of Italy 
only in the sense that the Pope was to be its imique 
ruler. Those Germans — he scorns them — ^must be 
driven out. Those free cities, always at war with 
each other, must be persuaded that the Papal seal will 
be their best protection. Even that kingdom of Naples 
and Sicily must somehow pass imder Rome ; in spite of 
the fact that Innocent had solemnly accepted the guar- 
dianship of the young king. 

It is commonly said that the German generals in 
Italy, like Markwald of Anweiler, were ferocious adven- 
turers eager only to carve little prindpalities for them- 
selves out of the helpless coimtry. This is the partisan 
version left us by Innocent's anonymous biographer. 
They were, with German troops, guarding the Empire 
for the successor of Henry VI.; they acknowledged 
Philip of Swabia; and Innocent was at a later date 
"warned" by an influential group of German prelates 
and nobles not to interfere with them. But Innocent 
had several advantages. Henry VI . had treated Italy 
with barbarity, and numbers of cities threw off the 

i8o Crises in the History of the Papacy 

German yoke when he died ; on the other hand, Mark* 
wald and his colleagues were tinder standing sentence 
of excommunication for occupying Papal fiefs like 
Tuscany. Innocent began by sending men and money 
to the revolted cities, and inviting them to put them- 
selves imder Rome's sacred banner. He travelled 
through central Italy in 1198, and received the al- 
legiance of many towns. Markwald, the chief enemy, 
was driven to the south, and Innocent pressed the south- 
erners to rise against him. 

Here the Pope had the familiar advantage of Papal 
policy — a woman on the throne — ^and he made a use of 
it that cannot very well be defended. Henry's Norman 
widow, Constance, was not tmwilling to break her 
connection with Germany, and she seems to have had 
little appreciation of the political meaning of making 
Sicily a fief of the Roman See. She was very ill and 
distracted, and no doubt felt that she was consulting 
the interest of her son in putting him and \the kingdom 
(of Sicily and Naples) under Papal charge. She did 
indeed hesitate when Innocent told her the price of his 
protection. Sicily was to sacrifice all the privileges 
which William I. had wnmg from the Papacy, to pay 
an annual tribute to Rome, and to render feudal ser- 
vice whenever required. ^ But Constance was forced to 
yield, and she died soon afterwards (November 27, 
1 198), appointing Innocent the guardian of her son 
and allotting him an annual fee of thirty thousand 
gold pieces. 

Innocent accepted the guardianship of Frederic, and 
historians comment severely on his next step. In 
spite of all his fiery letters to the southern clergy and 
people — even to the Saracens^ — ^inciting them to resist 

' £/>., i., 410. * IL, 226. 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith i8i 

the Germans, Maxkwald made considerable progress. 
Then there came to Rome a certain French adventurer 
named Walter de Brienne, who had married a daughter 
of Tancred of Sicily. Tancred had, on resigning 
Sicily, retained Lecce and Tarentum, and Walter 
claimed these as his wife's inheritance. Whether or 
no Innocent had actually promoted the marriage and 
invited Walter to Italy* we cannot confidently say, 
but it was assuredly dangerous to let such a man get 
a footing in southern Italy; it was probable enough 
that he would eventually claim the whole kingdom 
taken from Tancred. However Innocent blessed and 
financed his enterprise, on the formal condition that 
he would respect the rights of Frederic, and soon had 
a French troop waging more effective war upon the 
Germans. The struggle ceased with the death of 
Markwald in 1202, and of Walter in 1205, and Innocent 
then pressed a design of marrying the yoimg Frederic 
to Constanza of Aragon. For the time Frederic's rights 
were respected, but there can be no doubt that these 
early years spent amidst intrigue and treachery con- 
tributed to the development of his anti-clerical spirit. 
There was, in fact, a good deal of anti-clericalism 
growing in Italy. The development of civic and com- 
mtmal life and the comparative enlightenment which 
was spreading turned many critical eyes on the Roman 
system. Heresy descended the Alps and found favour 
in the free cities; even, at times, in Papal cities. I have 
described how Viterbo was crushed by the Roman 
troops. Innocent intervened in its favour, after its 
defeat, and he was then outraged to learn that Viterbo 
was, like many other cities, appointing heretics (the 

« This is aflfirmed in the contemporary Chronique d^Emaul et de BcT" 
nard le Trisorier, ch. xxx. 

1 82 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Cathari) to high places. He spent the summer of 
1207 in Viterbo, and enforced very stringent rules for 
the repression of heresy. These laws were extended 
to all the Papal dominions, but we shall see the Pope's 
attitude more clearly when we deal with the crusade 
against the Albigensians. Innocent was not less em- 
phatic in denotmcing the incessant wars of the rival 
cities, and his correspondence is largely occupied with 
his endeavours to secure their feudal allegiance to 

A graver problem, in the solution of which his char- 
acter is often obscured, was presented by the struggle 
of Ghibellines (or followers of Philip of Swabia) and 
Guelphs (supporters of Otto of Brunswick) for the im- 
penal ciown. Frederic, the son and heir of Henry, be- 
ing still a boy of tender years, his tmcle Duke Philip 
of Swabia desired to keep the crown securely in the 
Hohenstauffen family by wearing it himself. Otto 
of Brunswick also made a fantastic claim to it, got 
himself proclaimed Emperor at Cologne in 1198, and 
sought the support of the !Pope. Innocent tmdoubt- 
edly favoured from the start the baseless claim of Otto. 
The Papacy had come to regard the Hohenstauffens 
almost as hereditary foes, and Philip actually lay under 
sentence of excommunication for holding the territory 
bequeathed by Mathilda to the Papacy; while Otto 
flattered the Pope by professions of loyalty and docility. 
But Philip had the better prospect, if there was an 
appeal to the sword, and Innocent refused for some 
years to commit himself. He stunmoned Philip to 
surrender the Italian prisoners and the Papal provinces 
taken by Henry, and sent the Bishop of Sutri to absolve 
him if he complied. To his extreme annoyance the 
not very clear-headed Bishop gave Philip an uncondi- 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 183 

tional absolution — ^for which Innocent promptly im- 
prisoned the Bishop for life in a monastery — ^and thus 
surrendered the Pope's chance of profiting by the 

The rivals appealed to the sword, and Innocent bit- 
teriy complained that Philip did not ask his arbitration. ' 
He alone, he declared to the princes and prelates of 
Germany, was the judge of such high causes: to which 
the princes and prelates replied, in very firm and digni- 
fied language, that they would have no Papal inter- 
ference in the secular concerns of Germany.* As the 
war proceeded. Innocent made it clear that he favoured 
Otto. He warned the German prelates not to choose 
an Emperor on whom he could not bestow the crown, 
and in a letter to the Eastern Emperor he afterwards 
boasted that he alone kept Philip from the throne. But 
the war went in favour of Philip, and even when, in 
1200, both men sent representatives to Rome, Innocent 
would not commit himself to more than an eloquent 
proof that priests were exalted above kings. ^ At the 
beginning of the following year, however, he declared 
openly for Otto. He sent Cardinal Pierleone to Ger- 
many with the Bull Interest ApostoliccB Sedis, in which 
he drew up a violent and unjust indictment of Philip 
and awarded the crown to the loyal and virtuous Otto. 
The Bull is painfully casuistic, and would have been 
better if it had stopped at the bold declaration that the 
Papacy had created the Empire and could bestow it 
according to its pleasure. While, for instance, it 
charges Philip with treachery to the interests of his 
young nephew, it exonerates all others from the oath 
of fidelity to Henry's son on the ground that an oath 

* Ep., ii., in the Register, "On the Affairs of the Empire": Migne, 
col. ccxvi. ' Ep., xiv. * XviiL 

1 84 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

to an unbaptized infant was invalid.' The imperial 
crown was, in plain terms, allotted in the interests of 
the Church, in defiance of the wishes of the majority 
of the German nation. Otto hastened to swear that 
he would defend the Papal possessions (including Sicily) , 
and was proclaimed by a Papal Legate in Cologne 
cathedral on July 3, 1201. 

Innocent now sent out a flood of letters on behalf of 
his candidate, but the result was irritating. Philip 
of France roughly refused to recognize Otto ; and a let- 
ter signed by two German archbishops, ten bishops, 
and other clerics and nobles, sternly rebuked the Pofje 
for his ''audacity" in meddling with things which did 
not concern him. ' Innocent's Legates vainly scattered 
threats of excommunication in Germany. Hardly a 
single prelate recognized Otto, and, after seven years 
of the most brutal civil warfare, he was driven out of 
the country. We are not impressed by the Pope's 
feverish protests that he was not responsible for this 
desolation. In 1208, however, Philip, who had been 
reconciled with Rome in the previous year, was assas- 
sinated, and Otto, with Innocent's approval, mounted 
the throne. To the intense indignation of the Pope, 
the new Emperor at once cast his oaths of fidelity to the 
wind and told Innocent to confine himself to spiritual 
matters. He Annexed Tuscany and Spoleto, in spite 
of all the Pope's entreaties and threats, and was about 
to march against Naples and Apulia when Innocent 
launched against him a sentence of excommimication 
and deposition. Otto was, for the time, an excellent 
ruler: he had been educated in the English ideas of 

» The Deliberation or essential part of the Bull, is given in Migne's 
** Register of Imperial Concerns," no. xxix. See also the decretal 
Venerabilem Fratrem^ no. IziL ' LzL 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 185,/ 

government. But he had refused to be subservient 
to the clergy, and the German prelates now summoned 
Frederic from Sicily. Innocent approved the election 
of Frederic as easily as he had approved that of Philip 
and of Otto, but he did not live to see how that Emperor 
in turn defied the Papacy and scorned its political 
pretensions. ' 

Next in interest and importance were Innocent's 
relations with England. With Richard the Lion-Heart 
the Pope maintained a friendly correspondence, nor 
did he annoy the English prelates by any inconvenient 
cepsure of the condition of the English Church. In 
1 199 John Lackland succeeded his brother, and Innocent 
was even more indulgent to that barbarous and un- 
scrupulous monarch. Into the death of Prince Arthur 
he made no indiscreet inquiry ; he confirmed the disso- 
lution of John's marriage, and, for his shameful theft 
of the love of the betrothed of the Count de la Marche, 
imposed on him only the light and useful penance of a 
general confession and the equipment of a hundred 
knights for Palestinian service. During the war which 
followed he made earnest efforts to mediate, though 
even these were at times marred by his temporizing 
policy and his determination not to alienate the kings. 
When the bishops of Normandy, after the capture of 
that province by Philip, asked him how they were to 
adjust their allegiance, he weakly replied that Philip 
seemed to rely on some claim which he could not under- 
stand and they must judge for themselves. " At length 
a famous quarrel about the archbishopric of Canterbury 

' See R. Schwemer, Innocenz III, und die Deutsche Kirche wdhrend 
des ThronstreiUs von iig8-i2o8 (1882), and £. Englemann, P^ii/t^ von 
Schwaben und Innocenz III. (1896). 

• Ep,, viiL, 7. 


1 86 Crikes in the History of the Papacy 

drew him into a stem and triumphant conflict with 

The Archbishop, a worldly-minded courtier of the 
familiar type, died in 1205, and the Canterbtuy monks, 
who claimed the right of nomination, met hastily, by 
night, without awaiting the royal license to proceed to 
an election, and nominated their sub-prior Reginald. 
They sent Reginald at once to Rome, enjoining on him 
the strictest secrecy until he was consecrated, but the 
monk made a parade of his high condition as soon as 
he reached the continent and there was great indigna- 
tion in England. The Chapter, which disputed the 
arrogant claim of the monks, elected the Bishop of 
Norwich, and many of the monks, alarmed at their 
action or disgusted with their sub-prior, joined in the 
election. Sixteen monks accompanied the second de- 
putation to Rome, and they supported the declaration 
of the Court and the Church that Reginald's election 
was invalid. As, however, the Bishop of Norwich 
was one of the indulgent prelates. Innocent casuistically 
annulled both elections and imposed Stephen Langton 
on the English. John furiously protested that the 
Pope had insulted his state and threatened to withdraw 
the English Church from his jurisdiction; shrewdly 
reminding the Pope that he received more money from 
England than from any other country. 

John seems to have misunderstood the earlier com- 
plaisance of the Pope. Innocent was not the man to 
yield to a threat of financial loss, and he at once con- 
secrated Langton and laid England under an interdict. 
For some years the affrighted people saw the doors of 
their churches closed against them and imagined the 
jaws of a mediaeval hell gaping wide for their souls. 
There was no Christian marriage for their sons and 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 187 

daughters, no Christian burial for their aged ; and only 
to dying persons could the consoling sacrament be 
administered. In his fury John drove priests and 
prelates out of his kingdom, but his cruel and extortion- 
ate government had lost him the compensating strength 
of the affection of his people. In 121 1 he was forced to 
seek terms, and a Papal Legate reached England. 
Between the arrogance of Legate Pandolpho atid the 
passion of the King the negotiation failed, and John was 
deposed by the Pope. England, Rome repeated, had 
been a fief of the Apostolic See since William the Con- 
queror; it was now open to any Christian monarch to 
invade and possess it. This was a direct invitation 
to Philip of France to renew those horrors of warfare 
which Innocent had so eloquently denoimced,' and, 
to the intense mortification of the French King, John 
abjectly submitted (12 13). He even handed to the 
proud Legate a solemn declaration that England and 
Ireland were fiefs of the Apostolic See, and that he 
would pay a thousand marks a year for vassalage. The 
clergy were recalled and compensated, the interdict 
was raised, and Legate Pandolpho stalked the land with 
the insufferable air of a conqueror. 

If, however, this conflict gives an honourable promi- 
nence to the sterner qualities of Innocent, its sequel 
no less illustrates the weakness which seemed insepara- 
ble from the Papal policy, even when it was embodied 
in a lofty character. Pandolpho behaved so wantonly 
in resettling the clergy that he presently fell foul of 
the high-minded Langton: John behaved with a fe- 
rocity which drove nobles and commoners to the step 
of rebellion. Yet Innocent maintained his mischievous 
Legate against Langton, and laid a Papal malediction 

« Ep,, vi., 163. 

1 88 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

on the just aspirations of the people. He rebtiked the 
barons for their ** nefarious presumption" in taking 
arms against a vassal of the Roman See ; he denounced 
Magna Charta as a devil-inspired document, and for- 
bade *' his vassal ** to accede to its imjust demands. He 
excommunicated the barons when they refused to lay 
down their arms, and suspended Langton when that 
prelate refused, on the groimd that it was dictated 
by false representations, to promulgate his sentence. 
When the barons offered the crown to Louis, son of 
Philip of France, he issued an anathema against Louis; 
and in 121 6 he issued a sentence of excommunication 
against Philip himself for encouraging his son. He 
died before his sombre use of his spiritual weapons, in 
a carnal cause, was completed. He had, within ten 
years, raised Papal power in England to its supreme 
height and then dealt it a blow from which it would 
never recover. It is futile to plead that he was ill 
informed on the situation. He knew John, and he 
knew Langton; he ought to have known Pandolpho. 
In point of fact, there is no reason to think that he was 
radically misinformed. His whole action is plainly 
inspired by the interest, as he conceived it, of the 
Papacy. ' 

I must dismiss very briefly his relations with other 
Christian countries. Philip of France had, like John 
of England, discarded his wife and married a woman 
he loved. But the Papal miscroscope refused, in his 
case, to discover the remote affinity which, Philip said, 
made his first marriage void, and an interdict was laid 
on his kingdom. The terrified priests and people tore 
Philip from the arms of Agnes de Meran, the mother 
of three of his children, and forced him to submit. 

' See £. Gutschow, Innocenz III, und England (1904). 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 189 

Only under the later pressure of his conflicts with Otto 
and John did Innocent discover that there was suflScient 
prima facie evidence to spend several years in negotia- 
tion about a divorce, and, by an extraordinary use of 
his high powers, he declared the children of Agnes 

In Spain and Portugal, Innocent foimd irregular 
marriages almost as numerous as regular, and his in- 
terventions show the same unedifying mixture of priestly 
rigour and political compromise. Sacerdotal legislation 
had by this time surrounded marriage with a por- 
tentous series of obstacles — forbidden degrees of spiri- 
tual and carnal affinity — which sacerdotal power alone 
could remove, yet the isolated princes of the Peninsula 
were compelled to marry constantly into each other's 
families and did not always ask the costly blessing of 
the Papacy. That this legislation did not improve the 
sex-morals of Europe, which were at least no better 
than they had been in pagan times, is well known. 
Spain was particularly lax, having contracted the 
gaiety of neighbouring Provence, and her kings may 
have felt that where unwedded love was so genially 
tolerated, these academic restraints on wedded love 
might be disregarded. 

Innocent placed the kingdoms of Leon and Castile 
imder an interdict because the King of Leon had married 
his cousin, Berengaria of Castile, and, when the court 
of Leon ignored his censures, he predicted that there 
would be a horrible issue of the tmhallowed union. Its 
first fruit was St. Ferdinand ; but Berengaria nervously 
retired after a few years and left the King to bear his 
excommunication with Spanish dignity. The King of 
Castile soon obtained the removal of the interdict, on 
the groimd that it favoured the growth of heresy, but 

I90 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

he was then threatened with excommtinication because 
he permitted the Jews to become rich while the Church 
was poor. Pedro of Aragon was more forttmate. In 
the course of a journey to Rome he married the wife of 
the Coimt de Comminges, and the Pope at once accepted 
her assurance that the Coimt had two wives living 
when he married her, and blessed the .union. Pedro, 
it should be added, swore fealty and an annual subsidy 
of two hundred gold pieces to the Pope. The King of 
Navarre inciu*red an interdict for allying himself with 
the Moors. All that one can seriously put to the credit 
of Innocent is that he greatly aided the unification of 
Spain by spurring its kings to a common crusade against 
the Moors; if we may assume that the crusade favoured 
the progress of civilization in the cotmtry. Sancho 
of Portugal also felt, and disdained, the touch of the 
Papal whip. When Innocent complained of his oppres- 
sion of the clergy, he threatened — ^in a letter which 
Innocent describes as the most insolent ever written 
to a Pope — to strip his corrupt priests of all their 
wealth. Innocent at once temporized, but a dangerous 
illness and fit of repentance soon put Sancho and the 
kingdom of Portugal at his feet. At his death Sancho 
left the kingdom wholly subject to Rome and the 
clergy, though it was not many years before the quarrels 
of his children again drew upon it the spiritual blight 
of an interdict. 

It would be tedious to describe in detail all the simi- 
lar interventions of the Pope in other countries. He 
refused to let Marie of Brabant marry the Emperor 
Otto, and refused to dissolve the marriage of the King 
of Bohemia; indeed, he sternly rebuked the King of 
Bohemia for receiving his crown at the hands of Philip 
of Swabia. In Hungary he scolded Prince Endre for 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 191 

rebelling against his brother, and he raised Bulgaria 
to the rank of a kingdom, on condition that it recog- 
nized Roman supremacy. He claimed, in a word, to 
be the king of kings, the temporal as well as religious 
master of Europe. But we shall more clearly appre- 
ciate the qualities of his character and shades of his 
standard of action if we examine more fully his con- 
nection with the Fourth Crusade and the crusade against 

Tripoli, Antioch, and a few small Palestinian towns 
were all that remained of the European conquests from 
the Saracen, and Innocent's constant correspondence 
with the Christian prelates who lingered in the East 
made him eager, from the beginning of his Pontificate, 
to inspire Europe to make one more grand attempt to 
rescue the holy places. For several years he sought, 
by letters and Legates, to fire the Christian princes, 
to divert the swords of France and England to the 
breast of the Mohammedan, and to melt the cold cal- 
culations of Venice. But the memory of the last colos- 
* sal failure — of all the blood and treasure that had been 
expended on the stubborn task — was too fresh in Europe. 
In vain he promised, to all who took the cross, a sure 
entry into Paradise, and hinted not obscurely at the 
damnation which awaited those who refused. Thin 
bands of zealots responded to the call, and a larger 
multitude were induced to take the cross by Innocent's 
princely declaration that the earthly debts of all who 
joined the Crusade would be cancelled, and the Jews 
would be forced to forswear their legitimate interest. 
.The knights of Europe, to his fiery indignation, still 
wasted their spears on each other, or continued the 
more pleasant pastimes of the chase and the tourna- 
ment. Innocent, in a flood of eloquent letters, taxed 

192 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the clergy, confiscated the funds of erratic monks, and 
forbade the lay nobles to wear costly furs or eat costly 
dinners or indulge in tournaments. There were mur- 
murs that the Christians of the East needed no aid, 
since they were on excellent terms with the Saracens, 
as the Pope was painfully aware; and that the only 
sure effect of Crusades was to increase the power and 
the wealth of the Papacy which organized them. 
Even the clergy and the monks refused the subsidies 
he demanded, and he was compelled to sanction a 
practice which would in time prove the most terrible 
and destructive abuse of the mediaeval Papacy: the 
penance imposed on confessing sinners was to take the 
form of a money-contribution. To this day the indul- 
gences which are sold in Spain trace their origin to the 
Crusades, as the printed bula declares. 

At length, in the year 1200, Baldwin of Flanders and 
a few bishops and nobles formed the nucleus of a Cru- 
sade, and the astute Venetians were invited to provide 
for the transport of an army. In the spring of 1202 
the streams of soldiers and priests converged upon 
Venice, and an army of 23,000 assembled for the fourth 
assault on the Saracens. But the Pope's joy was soon 
overcast, and the Crusade proved to be the second most 
lamentable occurrence of his Pontificate. 

When the army assembled near Venice, it was discov- 
ered that neither the soldiers nor the Pope had money 
enough to pay their passage to the East. Venice had 
by that time fully developed its hard commercial spirit, 
and its famous blind Doge proposed to remit the debt 
if the Crusaders would, on their way, retake Zara (in 
Dalmatia) from the Hungarians for the Venetians. 
Innocent made the most violent opposition, but the 
Venetians, disdaining his threats, compelled the im- 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 193 

poverished soldiers to consent, and on October 8th 
they set sail, under threat of excommunication, to 
begin their Crusade by the shedding of Christian blood. 
They took Zura, and incurred excommimication ; but 
Innocent could not reconcile himself to the complete 
failure of his grand plan. He withdrew the censures 
they had so flagrantly defied, and admitted, or stated, 
that they had acted imder "a sort of necessity." They 
were to make some vague ** satisfaction" for their mis- 
deed, and push on, with clean souls, to the East. The 
Venetians alone were not relieved of the censure, but, 
though knights of a more tender conscience were pain- 
fully perplexed to find themselves in the same galleys 
with excommunicated men, the Venetians showed no 
concern. They had another check in reserve for the 

Before they left Italy, Alexis Comnenus had arrived 
from Constantinople to ask their aid in restoring his 
father to the throne he had just lost, and they were 
disposed to assist him. One could not, of course, 
expect the Pope to show the same concern for the blood 
of schismatics as for the blood of the Hungarians, yet 
his consent to this fatal and lamentable enterprise is a 
stain on his record. The sordid squabble of the Com- 
neni family did not deserve the sacrifice of a single 
knight, and the part of Isaac Conmenus was espoused 
by the Crusaders and the Pope only because the young 
Alexis promised money and provisions to the troops and 
the subjection of the Greek Church to the Lateran. 
The issue is well known. The Crusaders took Con- 
stantinople, sacked the city, and desecrated the churches 
with a brutality that must have shocked the Saracens; 
and they then settled down to divide its territory be- 
tween themselves and the Venetians. The letters 


194 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

which Innocent sent, as the successive news arrived, 
are painful reading. He must blame their excesses, 
he says at first, but, after all, these outrages had been 
merited by the sins of the Greeks; let the Crusaders 
inform him that the submission of the Greek Chtirch 
has been secured. At last they send him, for his con- 
firmation, a treaty from which he learns that they have 
arranged all the affairs, spiritual as well as secular, of 
the new Empire without consulting him, and he writes 
more warmly. To the outrage they have committed 
he is still almost insensible; it is their audacity in ruling 
the new Church — in permitting the hated Venetians 
to select a Patriarch — which excites his anger. 

The last phase of the enterprise caused him grave 
distress. Instead of proceeding to the East, the Latins 
set up an Empire and several petty princedoms, and 
the Greeks disdainfully watched their quarrels and 
awaited their own opportunity. Monks and priests 
were summoned from France, but the people were 
secretly wedded to their old religion and the new Church 
was a hollow sham. For years Innocent had to main- 
tain a fretful correspondence, settling quarrels about 
jurisdiction and property, and scolding his Crusaders 
for their oppression and spoliation of the clergy. But 
it is needless to recount all the details of that historic 
failure. The weariness of Innocent may be appreci- 
ated from the fact that in 12 13 he naively wrote to 
the Khalipha himself, beseeching him **in all humility" 
to restore to the Christians the land which they had 
not the courage or the interest to win by the sword. 

The crusade against the Albigensians was more 
successful, and even more lamentable, and I need do 
no more here than elucidate Innocent's relation to that 
monstrous crime. The degradation of morals and of 

Innocent IIL: the Ptipal Zenith 1^5 

oc lie cierg}\ arsi ibe 
Piracy, hid alreaviy rrowied 

.5,--^. igs oc prccesi. A sooewhi: 

modE5ei forzi cc C5rss:far£rv"s cli rival, MjirichMistu 
had Hngcr^ in tbe Eas: and had in riine nurrgled with 
the austere Chrisdarf rr of the Pan!:ne Eris:Ies. Prv«\ 
the Eastern Empire it had spread to Bulgaria, and 
from there, in the thirteenth centt:r>\ it passed rapidly 
over Europe, assznnlating all the anti-clerical and anti- 
ritualist feeling which the corruption of the time in- 
sprired. In one or other form it obtained considerablo 
strength in Switzerland, Piedmont, and the south of 
France, and it was fast gathering recruits in Italy and 
Spain. The light-living princes of Languedoc had little 
inclination to persecute; nor would they think that* 
if one might sing ribald contempt of the eccIosiasticiU 
system in the tavern and the monastery, this disdain 
was less respectable in the mouths of a generally sincere 
and upright body of fanatics. 

In the first year of his Pontificate Innocent sent two 
Cistercian monks, Guy and Renier, to convert the 
heretics and incite the civil and religious authorities 
to enforce the law. Of corporal persecution he assur- 
edly did not dream at that time, and indeed his letters 
made it clear that he preferred persuasion to coercion 
of any kind. The monks failed either to convert the 
heretics or to induce the bishops and princes of the 
south of France to persecute (by confiscation and exile), 
and they were replaced by the more vigorous monk- 
legates, Pierre de Castelnau and Raoul, to whom the 
resolute Abbot Arnold of Citeaux was afterwards added. 
Their powers set aside all ordinary episcopal jurisdic- 
tion, and, in pursuance of their policy of displacing lax 
and reluctant prelates, they put the fanatical Foulques 

196 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

of Marseilles in the bishopric of Toulouse. For eight 
years these energetic apostles worked almost in vain 
among the heretics. Apparently at the suggestion 
of St. Dominic, who was just entering the history of 
Europe, the Pope directed them to raise a corps of 
Cistercian monks who should live and preach on the 
model of the coming mendicant friars, but even this 
device made little impression on the heretics or the 
light-Uving Catholics. Arnold and Foulques, in par- 
ticular, became desperate, and the lamentable policy 
of persecution began to grow in their minds and that 
of the Pope. 

The principle of persecution had, as we saw, been 
established in the Lateran centuries before, and the 
only thing that restrained Innocent from applying it, 
in its bloodless form, was the refusal of the secular 
rulers to co-operate. Raymond of Toulouse was too 
healthily Epicurean to favour either the sombre creed 
of the heretics or the more sombre creed of the perse- 
cutor. Apologetic writers speak with horror of the 
number of his wives and fair friends, but we do not find 
that his conduct in this regard, or the similar conduct 
of other princes and prelates, attracted the attention of 
the Pope. When, however, he slighted a sentence of 
excommunication and still refused to persecute his 
excellent but unorthodox subjects, he received a wither- 
ing letter.' **Who does he think he is?" the Pope 
asks scornfully, to disobey one before whom the greatest 
monarchs of the earth bow. Let him cease to **feed 
on corpses like a vulture** — to break a lance with his 
neighbours — and obey the Legates, or the Pope will 
invite a more powerful prince to displace him. As 
early as November 17, 1207, Innocent bade the King 

« X., 69. 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith 197 

of Prance, the Duke of Burgundy, and other nobles, 
prepare for an expedition to Toulouse ; and the privileges 
of Crusaders were promised to all who joined it. 

Raymond was more moved by the political threat 
than by the spiritual censures, but there was sullen 
anger amongst his followers, and on January 15, 1208, 
the Legate Pierre de Castelnau was assassinated. There 
is not a tittle of evidence to incriminate Raymond, and 
it is in the highest degree improbable that he would 
thus open the gates to his greedy neighbours, but 
Innocent chose to believe that he had directed the 
murder. Without trial, he declared that Raymond 
had forfeited the allegiance of his subjects, and his 
dominions might be seized by any Christian prince. 
He spurred Philip of France — who must have been 
flattered to find himself now described as ''exalted 
amongst all others by God" — to the attack.' He 
addressed a fiery stmimons to "all the nobles and 
people of France" to "avenge this terrible insult to 
God."* Philip wanted Toulouse, but he overreached 
himself in making terms and he dreaded England. 
There were, however, plenty of nobles willing to lead 
their men to the plunder of prosperous Provence, and 
the clergy had become seriously alarmed at the spread 
of the heresy in France. A vast army, joyous at the 
rich prospect of loot, converged upon the southern 
State. Innocent III. knew better than we know the 
forces he had set in motion. The end sanctified the 

The next phase was pitiful: the issue is one of the 
most horrible pages of mediaeval history. Raymond 
sent representatives to Rome to offer submission, and 
the Pope and his Legates were embarrassed and be- 

« XL, 28. « XL, 29. 

198 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

haved abominably. When Raymond justly complained 
of the bitterness of Arnold of Citeaux, the Pope sent 
a peaceful notary from the Lateran; giving the man 
secret instructions to take no step without the direc- 
tions of Arnold, who was to be in the backgrotmd, and 
writing to Arnold that this Legate Milo is to be only 
'* the bait to conceal the hook of thy sagacity." Arnold, 
meanwhile, went to organize the crusade, for they in- 
tended to impose on Ra5rmond terms which seemed 
impossible. The helpless Raymond licked the dust : he 
was stripped and scourged, he had to surrender seven 
of his chief castles as hostages, and he was forced to 
promise to lead the troops against his own subjects. 
Innocent sank deeper into his awful policy. In an 
amazing letter to his Legates ' he reminded them of the 
words of Paul (II. Corinthians, xii., 16) : "Being crafty, 
I caught you with guile." They were to affect to 
regard the repentance of Raymond as sincere, and, 
''deceiving him by prudent dissimulation, pass to the 
extirpation of the other heretics." In other words, they 
were to crush Raymond's chief nobles and then, if he 
winced, crush him. Raymond did not wince, yet the 
army, with Abbot Arnold as Captain General, moved 
southward to that historic butchery of the Albigensians. 

The modern plea that Innocent could not arrest the 
avalanche is as wanton as the idea that he was moved 
by "social considerations." A sentence of excom- 
mimication, promulgated by Arnold of Citeaux, would 
have reduced the army to impotent proportions. In- 
nocent would not disappoint Arnold and Foulques, 
and those who had responded to his simimons; and he 
felt more sure of success this way. After the first two 
months of butchery and seizure of cities, he sent his 

' XL, 232. 

Innocent III.: the Papal* Zenith 199 

blessing to the ambitious de Montfort. He was, how- 
ever, superior to his Legates. The ferocious Arnold 
made every effort to goad Raymond to rebellion, and 
at last excommtmicated him again on the plea that he 
had not fulfilled his promises. Innocent tried — ^rather 
tamely — to restrain Arnold, refused to confiscate Ray- 
mond's castles (as Arnold demanded) imtil he had a 
just trial, and received him courteously at Rome. 
At last, utterly revolted by the baseness of the Legates, 
Raymond winced. He was denoimced to Rome, was 
confronted with terms which no man with a spark of 
honour could accept, and, when he refused, was ex-; 
commtmicated : the Pope confirming the sentence. 
Raymond's dominions were transferred to "the Blessed 
Peter," and de Montfort was to levy an annual tax — 
on which Innocent is painfully insistent — for the 

Two years butchery of men, women, and children 
had not yet broken the spirit of the Albigensians, and 
at the beginning of 12 13, the Legates and Simon were 
dismayed to hear from Innocent that the crusade was 
over, and the troops had better proceed against the 
Saracens; that Raymond had not yet been legally con- 
victed of heresy and mtirder, and had not therefore 
forfeited his fief; that, in any case, Raymond's sons, 
rather than Simon de Montfort, were his natural suc- 
cessors. Two Bulls Qanuary 17 and 18, 1213) and 
four letters in quick succession apprised the miser- 
able group that Innocent — ^largely owing to the inter- 
vention of Pedro of Aragon — at length appreciated 
their misconduct or had the courage to consult his 
better feelings. Unhappily, his cotirage did not last 
long. They stormed Rome with their remonstrances, 
and Innocent yielded. As, moreover, the King of 

200 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Aragon failed in his attempt to reduce them* by arms, 
the cause of Raymond was utterly lost and his territory 
was made over to Rome. To the end Innocent wavered 
between his more humane feeling and the policy he had 
so long coimtenanced. He refused to confirm the 
appointment of Simon as sovereign (imder Rome) of 
the whole territory, and when Arnold (who was now 
Archbishop of Narbonne) quarrelled with Simon over 
the title of Duke of Narbonne, he supported Arnold. 
At the Lateran Coimcil, which was to decide the issue, 
he made a plea for leniency to Raymond and justice 
to his heirs, but he yielded to the truculent priests, 
and the tmhappy prince was cast aside with an annual 
pension of four himdred marks. Innocent did not live 
to see the arrogant Arnold excommtmicate de Montfort, 
and the two Raymonds return and win back much of 
their estate. 

Causa causcB est causa causati, the schoolmen used to 
say. The Pope who maintained Arnold of Citeaux, 
Foulques of Marseilles, and Simon de Montfort in 
their positions when their characters were f idly revealed, 
and the whole of Europe knew the atrocities they com- 
mitted, bears the guilt of the massacre of the Albigen- 

The fourth Lateran Coimcil was his last work, and 
one of the most important Coimcils of the Middle 
Ages. He siunmoned all the bishops, abbots, and 
priors of Christendom to come, on November i, 12 15, 
to discuss the reform of the Church, the suppression 
of heresy, and the recovery of Palestine. A vast audi- 
ence listened to his opening sermon on November nth, 
and for nineteen days they framed laws against heretics, 
Jev/s, and schismatics: vainly thundered against the 
vice, sensuality, and rapacity of the clergy: reduced the 

Innocent III.: the Papal Zenith , 201 

forbidden degrees of kindred (in marriage) to four — 
since there were only four humours in the body: im- 
posed on all Christians a duty of confessing at least 
once a year: and fixed the next Crusade for June i, 12 16. 
But Innocent, if he marked with pride the contrast 
of that gorgeous assemblage to the little group of 
Christians who had met in an inn in the Transtiberina 
a thousand years earlier, cannot have been content. 
Not a single Greek had responded to his summons: 
grave murmurs at his hard policy and despotic action 
arose in the Council itself: half the prelates, at least, 
were imfit to impose reforming measures on their 
priests: and the ghastly mockery of his last Crusade 
gave little hope for the future. He did not even appre- 
ciate the new forces for good which were rising. He 
had coldly received, if not actually discouraged, Domi- 
nic and Francis. His ideal was power : of love he knew 
nothing. He flung himself ardently into the prepara- 
tion for the new war on the Saracens, and died, on June 
16, 12 16, with the call to arms on his lips. He sacrificed 
himself nobly in the interest of his high ideal, and was 
one of the greatest makers of the Papacy, but he sacri- 
ficed also much that men inalienably prize, and he 
began the unmaking of the Papacy. 



IN maintaining that the power of the Papacy waned 
after the Pontificate of Innocent III., I do not mean 
that there was such visible decay as even the most 
acute contemporary observer might have detected. 
The thirteenth century must have seemed to the states- 
men of the time to strengthen the Papacy. The Do- 
minican and Franciscan friars, quickly recognized by 
Innocent's successors, impressed on Europe the duty 
of implicit obedience. The great canonists began to 
make an imposing body of law out of the decrees of the 
Popes. Art developed in close association with reli- 
gious sentiment. The hereditary feud with the Hohen- 
stauffens ended, fifty years after the death of Innocent, 
with the complete overthrow of the son and grandson of 
Frederic II. Yet most historians now recognize that 
the thirteenth century was, for the Papacy, a period of 
slow and subtle decay. The mighty struggle with 
Frederic, Manfred, and Conradin exhausted the high- 
minded, but not heroic, successors of Innocent, and it 
ended only when, by summoning Philip of Anjou, 
they substituted French for German predominance 
and inaugurated another exacting period of conflict. 
The alternative was a period of comparative impotence 
and flabby parasitism. Into this the Papacy passed; 


John XXII. : the Court at Avignon 203 

and, unfortunately for it, the degeneration occurred 
just when the eyes of Europe were growing sharper. 
It was the date of the early renaissance of culture, 
inspired by the Moors: it was a rich period of civic 
development and prosperity: it was the time when 
castes of keen-eyed lay lawyers and scholars were 
growing. Arms were yielding to togas in the work of 
restricting the growth of the Papacy. 

Boniface VIII. (1294-1303) is the last great repre- 
sentative of the Papal ideal in its earlier and more 
austere mediaeval form. His Bull Clericis laicos (1296) 
which declared all clerical and monastic property in 
the world to be imder his protection and sternly bade 
secular rulers respect it, was one of the last Olympic 
f ulminations ; and it was defeated by England and 
France. Then, in 1300, he declared the Jubilee; and 
some historians see in that prostration of Christendom 
at the feet of the Papacy the last notable expression of 
its world-power. Men said at the time — I am not press- 
ing it as fact — that Boniface was so exalted by the 
spectacle that he put on the imperial crown and sandals. 
No one questions that the Papacy decayed from that 
year. Under the banner of Papal absolutism Boniface 
made war on the great Ghibelline family of the Colonnas, 
and on Philip the Fair and his lawyers, and he igno- 
miniously fell. The blameless and gentle Dominican, 
Benedict XI., who succeeded him, could not sustain for 
more than a few months the struggle he had inherited, 
and the Gascon Clement V. then inaugurated what has 
been too forcibly called "the Babylonian Captivity." 

After a secret compact with Philip, after a complete 
sacrifice of his ideals, and after the distribution of much 
French gold among the cardinals, he obtained the tiara 
(1305). In 1309 he settled at Avignon, basely surren- 



IN maintaining that the power of the Papacy waned 
after the Pontificate of Innocent III., I do not mean 
that there was such visible decay as even the most 
acute contemporary observer might have detected. 
The thirteenth century must have seemed to the states- 
men of the time to strengthen the Papacy. The Do- 
minican and Franciscan friars, quickly recognized by 
Innocent's successors, impressed on Europe the duty 
of implicit obedience. The great canonists began to 
make an imposing body of law out of the decrees of the 
Popes. Art developed in close association with reli- 
gious sentiment. The hereditary feud with the Hohen- 
stauff ens ended, fifty years after the death of Innocent, 
with the complete overthrow of the son and grandson of 
Frederic II. Yet most historians now recognize that 
the thirteenth century was, for the Papacy, a period of 
slow and subtle decay. The mighty struggle with 
Frederic, Manfred, and Conradin exhausted the high- 
minded, but not heroic, successors of Innocent, and it 
ended only when, by summoning Philip of Anjou, 
they substituted French for German predominance 
and inaugurated another exacting period of conflict. 
The alternative was a period of comparative impotence 
and flabby parasitism. Into this the Papacy passed; 


John XXII.: the Court at Avignon 203 

and, unfortunately for it, the degeneration occurred 
just when the eyes of Europe were growing sharper. 
It was the date of the early renaissance of culture, 
inspired by the Moors: it was a rich period of civic 
development and prosperity: it was the time when 
castes of keen-eyed lay lawyers and scholars were 
growing. Arms were yielding to togas in the work of 
restricting the growth of the Papacy. 

Boniface VIII. (1294-1303) is the last great repre- 
sentative of the Papal ideal in its earlier and more 
austere mediaeval form. His Bull Clericis laicos (1296) 
which declared all clerical and monastic property in 
the world to be imder his protection and sternly bade 
secular rulers respect it, was one of the last Olympic 
f ulminations ; and it was defeated by England and 
France. Then, in 1300, he declared the Jubilee; and 
some historians see in that prostration of Christendom 
at the feet of the Papacy the last notable expression of 
its world-power. Men said at the time — I am not press- 
ing it as fact — that Boniface was so exalted by the 
spectacle that he put on the imperial crown and sandals. 
No one questions that the Papacy decayed froni that 
year. Under the banner of Papal absolutism Boniface 
made war on the great Ghibelline family of the Colonnas, 
and on Philip the Fair and his lawyers, and he igno- 
miniously fell. The blameless and gentle Dominican, 
Benedict XI., who succeeded him, could not sustain for 
more than a few months the struggle he had inherited, 
and the Gascon Clement V. then inaugurated what has 
been too forcibly called "the Babylonian Captivity." 

After a secret compact with Philip, after a complete 
sacrifice of his ideals, and after the distribution of much 
French gold among the cardinals, he obtained the tiara 
(1305). In 1309 he settled at Avignon, basely surren- 




IN maintaining that the power of the Papacy waned 
after the Pontificate of Innocent III., I do not mean 
that there was such visible decay as even the most 
acute contemporary observer might have detected 
The thirteenth century must have seemed to the states- 
men of the time to strengthen the Papacy. The Do- 
minican and Franciscan friars, quickly recognized by 
Innocent's successors, impressed on Europe the duty 
of implicit obedience. The great canonists began to 
make an imposing body of law out of the decrees of the 
Popes. Art developed in close association with reli- 
gious sentiment. The hereditary feud with the Hohen- 
stauffens ended, fifty years after the death of Innocent, 
with the complete overthrow of the son and grandson of 
Frederic II. Yet most historians now recognize that 
the thirteenth century was, for the Papacy, a period of 
slow and subtle decay. The mighty struggle with 
Frederic, Manfred, and Conradin exhausted the high- 
minded, but not heroic, successors of Innocent, and it 
ended only when, by summoning Philip of Anjou, 
they substituted French for German predominance 
and inaugurated another exacting period of conflict. 
The alternative was a period of comparative impotence 
and flabby parasitism. Into this the Papacy passed; 


John XXII.: the Court at Avignon 203 

and, unfortunately for it, the degeneration occurred 
just when the eyes of Europe were growing sharper. 
It was the date of the early renaissance of culture, 
inspired by the Moors: it was a rich period of civic 
development and prosperity: it was the time when 
castes of keen-eyed lay lawyers and scholars were 
growing. Arms were yielding to togas in the work of 
restricting the growth of the Papacy. 

Boniface VIII. (1294-1303) is the last great repre- 
sentative of the Papal ideal in its earlier and more 
austere mediaeval form. His Bull Clericis laicos (1296) 
which declared all clerical and monastic property in 
the world to be imder his protection and sternly bade 
secular rulers respect it, was one of the last Olympic 
f ulminations ; and it was defeated by England and 
France. Then, in 1300, he declared the Jubilee; and 
some historians see in that prostration of Christendom 
at the feet of the Papacy the last notable expression of 
its world-power. Men said at the time — I am not press- 
ing it as fact — that Boniface was so exalted by the 
spectacle that he put on the imperial crown and sandals. 
No one questions that the Papacy decayed from that 
year. Under the banner of Papal absolutism Boniface 
made war on the great Ghibelline family of the Colonnas, 
and on Philip the Fair and his lawyers, and he igno- 
miniously fell. The blameless and gentle Dominican, 
Benedict XI., who succeeded him, could not sustain for 
more than a few months the struggle he had inherited, 
and the Gascon Clement V. then inaugurated what has 
been too forcibly called "the Babylonian Captivity." 

After a secret compact with Philip, after a complete 
sacrifice of his ideals, and after the distribution of much 
French gold among the cardinals, he obtained the tiara 
(1305). In 1309 he settled at Avignon, basely surren- 




IN maintaining that the power of the Papacy waned 
after the Pontificate of Innocent III., I do not mean 
that there was such visible decay as even the most 
acute contemporary observer might have detected. 
The thirteenth century must have seemed to the states- 
men of the time to strengthen the Papacy. The Do- 
minican and Franciscan friars, quickly recognized by 
Innocent's successors, impressed on Europe the duty 
of implicit obedience. The great canonists began to 
make an imposing body of law out of the decrees of the 
Popes. Art developed in close association with reli- 
gious sentiment. The hereditary feud with the Hohen- 
stauffens ended, fifty years after the death of Innocent, 
with the complete overthrow of the son and grandson of 
Frederic II. Yet most historians now recognize that 
the thirteenth century was, for the Papacy, a period of 
slow and subtle decay. The mighty struggle with 
Frederic, Manfred, and Conradin exhausted the high- 
minded, but not heroic, successors of Innocent, and it 
ended only when, by summoning Philip of Anjou, 
they substituted French for German predominance 
and inaugurated another exacting period of conflict. 
The alternative was a period of comparative impotence 
and flabby parasitism. Into this the Papacy passed; 


John XXII.: the Court at Avignon 203 

and, unfortunately for it, the degeneration occurred 
just when the eyes of Europe were growing sharper. 
It was the date of the early renaissance of culture, 
inspired by the Moors: it was a rich period of civic 
development and prosperity: it was the time when 
castes of keen-eyed lay lawyers and scholars were 
growing. Arms were yielding to togas in the work of 
restricting the growth of the Papacy. 

Boniface VIII. (1294-1303) is the last great repre- 
sentative of the Papal ideal in its earlier and more 
austere mediaeval form. His Bull Clericis laicos (1296) 
which declared all clerical and monastic property in 
the world to be imder his protection and sternly bade 
secular rulers respect it, was one of the last Olympic 
fulminations ; and it was defeated by England and 
France. Then, in 1300, he declared the Jubilee; and 
some historians see in that prostration of Christendom 
at the feet of the Papacy the last notable expression of 
its world-power. Men said at the time — I am not press- 
ing it as fact — that Boniface was so exalted by the 
spectacle that he put on the imperial crown and sandals. 
No one questions that the Papacy decayed from that 
year. Under the banner of Papal absolutism Boniface 
made war on the great Ghibelline family of the Colonnas, 
and on Philip the Fair and his lawyers, and he igno- 
miniously fell. The blameless and gentle Dominican, 
Benedict XI., who succeeded him, could not sustain for 
more than a few months the struggle he had inherited, 
and the Gascon Clement V. then inaugurated what has 
been too forcibly called "the Babylonian Captivity." 

After a secret compact with Philip, after a complete 
sacrifice of his ideals, and after the distribution of much 
French gold among the cardinals, he obtained the tiara 
(1305)- III 1309 he settled at Avignon, basely surren- 


204 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

dered the Templars (after an appalling travesty of 
justice) to the cupidity of the King, and settled down, 
in the company of his sister and niece and dear friend 
the Countess of Talleyrand-P^rigord, to a life of sen- 
suous luxury and the accumulation of wealth. He died 
on March 12, 1314, leaving 1,078,800. florins (about 
£500,000) nearly the whole of which went to his family 
and friends, and the cardinals gathered anxiously to 
choose his successor. 

Clement had died near Carpentras, about fifteen 
miles from Avignon, and the cardinals met in the episco- 
pal palace of that town. The austere Gregory X. had 
decreed in 1274 that the cardinal electors should be 
walled into their chamber (or Conclave) until they had 
chosen a Pope, and the twenty-three princes of the 
Church prepared for a desperate encounter in their 
isolated quarters. There were six Italians, eager to tell 
a pitiful story of the ruin of Rome and the patrimonies 
because of the absence of the Pope from Italy. But 
there were nine Gascons — three of them nephews of 
Clement, all creatures of Clement — and, as two of the 
eight French cardinals supported the Gascons, they 
made a formidable majority and demanded an Avignon 
Pope: in fact, a Gascon Pope. Day followed day in 
angry discussion, and the cries of the infuriated followers 
of the Gascon cardinals without grew louder and louder. 
At last, on July 23d, there came a thundering on the 
doors, and the terrified cardinals, breaking through the 
wall, fied from the town and dispersed. For two years, 
to the grave scandal of Christendom, they refused to 
agree on a place of meeting, until at last Philip of 
Valois enticed them to Lyons, entrapped them into a 
monastery, and told them that they were prisoners 
until they made a Pope. 

John XXII.: the Court at Avignon 205 

Under these auspices Jacques de Cahors, Cardinal 
of Porto, became John XXII. He was a little, dry, 
bilious old man of seventy- two: but an able lawyer and 
administrator, and a man of wonderful vigour for his 
age. In his case the more careful research of modem 
times and the opening of the Vatican Archives have 
tended to give him, in some respects, a more honour- 
able position in history than he had hitherto occupied. 
The reader will hardly find him morally and spiritually 
attractive, but he had a remarkable and powerful 
personality, and he achieved more than has been sup- 
posed. His "Register" in the Vatican Archives con- 
tains 65,000 letters. Most of these are very brief 
notes written by the Papal clerks, but there are many of 
interest and they enable us at times to correct the 
anecdotists of his age. He had virulent enemies, and 
they must be read with reserve. ' 

Jacques d'Euse, of Cahors, is said by unfriendly 
writers of the time to have been the son of a cobbler 
(or, according to others, a tailor). As he had relatives 
in good positions, and received a good schooling, this 
is probably a legend. But his early life is obscure. 
He studied imder the Dominicans of Cahors, and then 
attended the lectures at Montpellier and at Paris. 
The story of Ferretti di Vicenza, that he went with a 

* For the letters see Ltttres de Jean XXII, (2 vols., 1908 and 1912)9 
edited by Arnold Fayen: a selection of 3653 letters, generally business 
notes of little importance. Various short lives of John are given in 
Baluzc's ViUE Paparutn Avenionensium, vol. ii., and there are censorious 
allusions to him in G. Villani's Historic Florentine: a contemporary but 
biassed work. Bertrandy's Recherches sur Vorigine, V&ection, et le 
cauronnement de Jean XXII, (1854) is valuable for his early years, as 
well as Dr. J. Asal's Die Wahl Johannes XXII, (1910). V. Verlaque's 
Jean XXII, (1883), is foolishly partisan, and declares John "one of the 
greatest successors of St. Peter." Sectional studies will be noticed in 
the course of the chapter. 

2o6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

trading uncle to Naples and became tutor to the sons 
of Charles II., does not harmonize with these facts, 
and we must therefore reject the further charge that 
he obtained his bishopric by forging a letter in the 
name of Charles. He seems rather to have taught civil 
law for a long period at Cahors, and then at Toulouse, 
where he earned the friendship of the Bishop, St. Lotus, 
and was thus brought to the notice and favour of the 
Bishop's father, the King of Naples. Charles secured 
the bishopric of Fr^jus for him in 1300, and made him 
his Chancellor in 1307. When Charles died, his son 
Robert continued the patronage and got for him the 
bishopric of Avignon. Clement V. foimd him a useful 
man and pliant lawyer. It was he who did the most 
accommodating research for Clement in the suppression 
of the Templars, and he was rewarded with a red hat 
in 1 3 12. He was a sober man, liking good solid fare 
and regular ways, and kept his energy and ambition in 
his eighth decade of life. 

Robert of Naples pressed his candidature for the 
Papacy when Clement died, and the Gascons adopted 
him. He won the vote of Cardinal Orsini — this state- 
ment of his critics is confirmed by later events — ^by 
professing a most determined intention to transfer the 
Papacy to Rome. The anecdotists say that he swore 
never to moimt a horse imtil he was established at the 
Lateran; and, after a gorgeous coronation-ceremony at 
Lyons on September 5th, he at once proceeded by boat 
to Avignon. The Italian cardinals left him in disgust, 
and he promptly promoted ten new cardinals, of whom 
nine were French (and three, including his nephew, 
from Cahors). Of his later seventeen cardinals, thir- 
teen were French, three Italian, and one Spanish. 
The Papacy was fixed at Avignon. 

John XXII. : the Court at Avignon 207 

The little town which Clement had chosen as the 
seat of the Papacy had the advantage, in John's eyes, 
of being separated from Philip's territory by the Rhone 
and being under the suzerainty of Robert of Naples. 
It was still a small, poorly built town. Clement had 
found the Dominican monastery large enough for his 
Epictu'ean establishment. John retiuned at first to 
his old episcopal palace, but the great rock on which 
the Papal Palace now stands soon inspired his ambi- 
tion and he began assiduously to nurse the Papal in- 
come. Much of Clement's money had been removed 
and stored by his clever and unscrupulous nephew, 
the Viscount Bertrand de Goth, who would not easily 
disgorge it. After a time John asserted his spiritual 
power, and simimoned the Viscount to present an 
accotmt. Three times the noble ignored his summons, 
and then, when John was about to proceed against him, 
he judiciously distributed some of the money among 
the cardinals and had the case postponed. At length 
he rode boldly into Avignon to give his account. He 
had, he explained, with a most insolent air of simplicity 
and candoiu", received 300,000 florins from his imcle. 
This siun was destined to be used in the next Crusade, 
and he had sworn on the Gospels not to yield it for any 
other purpose. John was baulked and was compelled 
to compromise. They agreed to divide the money, and 
a receipt preserved at the Vatican shows that 150,000 
florins were all he obtained of Clement's huge fortime. 
Clement had left only 70,000 florins directly to his 
successor, and half of this had to go to the cardinals. 
All the rest Clement regarded as private fortune and 
distributed among his friends and servants. 

John turned to the organization of the Papal income, 
and his success in this direction is notorious. Villani 

2o8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

says in his Florentine History^ that at his death John 
left a fortune of 25,000,000 florins* in coin and jewels. 
Villani is hostile, but he affirms that he had this infor- 
mation from his brother, who was one of the bankers 
appointed to appraise the siun. Other chroniclers 
give different figures. It happens, however, that 
John's ledgers are still preserved in the Vatican archives, 
and as in this case they completely refute the anti- 
Papal chroniclers — b, point certainly to be carefully 
noted by the historian — they have been published.* 
Some of the ledgers are "missing," but there are general 
statements (tallying with the separate ledgers), and 
from these it appears that the entire income of the 
Papacy during the eighteen years of John's Pontificate 
was about four and a half million florins (or about 
£120,000 a year), and that the greater part of this was 
spent on the Italian war. There is an expenditure of 
nearly three millions under the humorous heading of 
"Wax, and certain extraordinary expenses," and the 
items show that the Italian campaign to recover the 
Papal estates absorbed most of this. At the same 
time the ledgers do not quite confirm the edifying tradi- 
tion of John's sober and simple life. His table and 
cellar cost (in modern terms) nearly £3000 a year: his 
"wardrobe" nearly £4000 a year: and his officials and 
staff about £15,000 a year. Immense sums seem to 
have been given to relatives — there is one item of 72,000 
florins paid to his brother Peter for certain estates — 
and we know that in 1339 he began to build the famous 
Papal Palace. 

*Xi., 20. 

" The gold florin is estimated at about ten shillings of English money. 

3 Die Einnahmen der Apostolischer Kammer ufUer Johann XXII, 
( 1 910), by Dr. Emil Goller, and Die Ausgaben der Apostolischer Kammer 
unter Johann XXII, (191 1), by K. H. Shafer. 

John XXIL: the Court at Avignon 209 

In sum, the editors of John's accounts conclude that 
the Papal treasiuy would, at his death, have shown a 
deficit of 90,000 florins but for a loan of half a milHon 
from his private purse; and that the total amoimt left 
behind by him (besides his valuable library of 1028 
volumes, his collection of 329 jewelled rings, etc.) was 
only about 800,000 florins. It is true that, in spite of 
the businesslike appearance of the ledgers, we must 
not take this as a statement of the Pope's entire estate. 
Vast sums were collected which did not pass through 
Avignon, but went straight to the Legate in Italy (and 
possibly elsewhere). Moreover, the "private purse" 
of the Pope is an interesting and obsciu'e part of his 
system. It was discovered at his death that he had a 
secret "little chamber," over one of the corridors, into 
which a large part of the income went. There are 
historical indications that he diverted to his private 
account large sums for military and special political 
purposes. He did not foresee how Clement VI. would 
genially dissipate it, with the words: "My predecessors 
did not know how to live." This account was not en- 
tered in books, and we have to be content with the 
assurance that he left at his death rather less than a 
million florins in all. 

Yet an income of — ^if we make allowance for the 
unrecorded sums — something like £200,000 a year, at 
a time when the patrimonies were mostly alienated, 
was enormous, and there is no reason to doubt the 
statement of all historians that it came largely from 
tainted sources. John's fiscal policy is a stage in the 
degeneration of the Papacy. Clement IV. had, in 
1267, reserved to the Pope the income of the benefices 
of clerks who died at Rome, and Boniface VIII. had 
enlarged this by including all who died within a two 


210 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

days* journey of Rome. John extended the law through- 
out the Church and demanded three years' revenue for 
each that fell vacant. By his Bull Execrabilis he or- 
dered all clerks (except his cardinals) who held several 
benefices to select one and surrender the rest to the 
Apostolic See. He created bishoprics — ^he made six 
out of the bishopric of Toulouse — by subdividing actual 
sees (on the plea, of course, that the duties wotdd be 
better discharged), and by an astute system of promo- 
tions he, when a see fell vacant, contrived to move 
several men and secure the "first fruits" on their ap- 
pointments: a vacant archbishopric, for instance, 
would be filled by a higher bishop, the higher bishopric 
by a lower bishop, and so on. It was possible to put a 
complexion of reform on all these measures, but clergy 
and laity muttered a charge of avarice. Then there 
were the incomes from kingdoms and duchies (England, 
Aragon, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, 
and Spoleto) which owed an annual tribute, the yield 
of the surviving patrimonies, the taxes on dispensations 
and grants, and a certain beginning of the sale of in- 
dulgences which, unfortunately, we cannot closely 

John was not wholly immersed in finance and insen- 
sible of higher duties. He created universities at 
Cahors and Perugia, regulated the studies at Oxford, 
Cambridge, and Paris, and even (as we shall see) con- 
cerned himself with the state of the East. But the 
only council we trace under his control (held at St. 
Ruf, in 1326) was almost entirely concerned with eccle- 
siastical property and immunities, and his correspond- 
ence is, in effect, almost wholly fiscal and political. 
He greatly enlarged the Rota (or legal and business 
part of the Curia), and filled it with a cosmopolitan 

John XXII.: the Court at Avignon 211 

staff of clerks, to deal with this large and lucrative side 
of his affairs. It is pleaded that the Papacy could not 
discharge its duties without this wealth and power; 
and it must seem unfortimate that the acquisition and 
maintenance of the wealth and power left so little time 
for the duties they were to enable the Pope to discharge. 

Watered by this stream of gold, Avignon flourished. 
John was generous to his family and his cardinals: 
palaces began to rise above the lowly roofs of the town : 
a gay and coloured Hfe filled its streets. A Papal 
household costing £25,000 a year would of itself make 
an impression. We know Avignon best in the later 
and even richer days of Benedict XII. and Clement 
VI. who followed John. Not far away, even in the 
days of John, dwelt a writer who was destined to im- 
mortality, and he passed scathing criticisms on Avignon. 
Petrarch is a rhetorician and poet, as well as a fierce 
opponent of the Avignon Papacy, but one cannot lightly 
disregard his assurance that Papal Avignon was ''Baby- 
lon," " a Uving hell," and " the sink of aU vices." ' He 
is chiefly describing Avignon imder Clement VI., but 
he says that it is only a change "from bad to worse" 
since John's days. 

An episode that occurred soon after John's elevation 
is, perhaps, more convincing than Petrarch's fiery 
rhetoric, since its features were determined in a legal 
process. Hugues G^raud, a favourite of Clement V., 
had obtained from that Pope the bishopric of Cahors, 
paying the Papal tax of a thousand florins for it. He 

* See, especially, the book of his letters "Sine titulo," most of which 
contain appalling invectives on the Popes and cardinals and clergy. 
Epistola xviii, is a classical picture of vice, even among the elderly clergy. 
Its chief defect is to associate the name of tolerably respectable Babylon 
with such a picture. 

212 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

proceeded to make his possession as lucrative as pos- 
sible and Kve comfortably on the revenue his clerks 
extorted for him. John's townsfolk appealed to him, 
as soon as he settled in Avignon, and he summoned the 
Bishop to his court. Hugues G6raud sealed the lips 
of his priests by an oath of silence, but, of course, a 
Pope could undo that seal, and the inquiry revealed 
enormities on the part of the Bishop. Toward the 
close of the inquiry certain men were arrested bringing 
mysterious packages into the town. They had with 
them various poisons and certain little wax images 
concealed in loaves. The Bishop and his chief clerks 
were at once arrested, and, although the Papal officials 
used torture to open their lips, the substance of their 
story seems reliable. Fearful of the issue, Hugues 
G6raud had applied to a Jew at Toulouse, and to others, 
for these poisons and wax images. It was proved in 
court that members of the Papal household, including 
a cardinal, were bribed to facilitate the poisoning, and 
that the wax images, which were not effective without 
the blessing of some prelate, were actually blessed by the 
Archbishop of Toulouse. The Archbishop pleaded that 
he had no suspicion of the awful purpose of these images 
— familiar as they were in the Middle Ages — ^but he 
soon fled from Toulouse, and it is conjectured that he 
had hoped that the death of the Pope would save his 
diocese (and income) from the threatened dismember- 
ment. ' 

Some of these images had already been smuggled 
into Avignon and the Bishop and his archpriest had, 
in the well-known mediaeval manner, set up one of them 

» See a full (and conservative) analysis of the evidence in E. Abbe's 
Hugues GSraud (1904). I am entirely ignoring the gossipy chronidefS 
of the time, whom Milman too frequently follows. 

John XXIL: the Court at Avignon 213 

as representative of the Pope's nephew, Cardinal 
Jacques de Via, and stabbed it in the belly and legs 
with silver styles, while the wicked Jew repeated the 
suitable imprecations. John XXII . fully shared the 
views of his age in regard to these magical practices, 
and we can imagine how he and others were confirmed 
in that belief when, in the course of the trial, Jacques de 
Via sickened and died. The trial came to a speedy con- 
clusion. The Bishop of Cahors was dragged by horses 
through the town and burned at the stake: his nimierous 
clerical and lay accomplices were adequately punished : 
and John spurred the Inquisitors to a deadly campaign 
against magicians throughout the country. Some of 
the cardinals were involved in this or a similar plot, 
but John shrewdly disanned them with gold rather 
than make powerful enemies. 

These details will suffice to make clear the state of 
the clergy and laity at the close of a century which 
some writers appraise as one of profound inspiration, 
and we must go on to consider the large policy which 
John's wealth was intended to support. The central 
theme is, once more, the political struggle with the 
Emperor — the tmdying curse which temix)ral power 
had brought with it — but we cannot understand this 
aright unless we first regard a spiritual struggle of 
great interest. 

The followers of Francis of Assisi had branched into 
the customary parties of rigourists and liberals. On 
the one hand were the great body. of the friars, living 
in large comfortable monasteries, raising a stupendously 
rich church over the bones of their ascetic fotinder. 
On the other hand were the faithful minority, the 
genuinely ascetic, casting withering reproaches on the 
liberals, assimilating much of the mystic and — ^we may 

214 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

justly say — protestant feeling which was growing in 
Europe. There were bloody conflicts as well as highly 
seasoned arguments. The "Spirituals" and "Fratri- 
celli" could not but regard the wealth and sensuality 
of the higher clergy as an apostasy from the Christian 
ideal, and they had become one of the most pronounced 
''protestant" sects of the time and were anathematizied 
repeatedly by the Popes. During the Papal vacancy 
the Spirituals had prospered and become more strident. 
Christendom had apostatized, and they were the heralds 
of a new religion, revealed to Francis of Assisi. This 
arrogant Papacy and priesthood must disappear before 
true religion can flourish. 

In the spring of 131 7 John condemned them, and, 
when they still preached revolt, summoned about sixty 
of them to Avignon. They used very plain speech 
and received a very plain reply. The Papacy had now 
discovered that persistent or ''contimiacious" disobe- 
dience amounted to heresy, and the Inquisitors be- 
longed to the rival Dominican order. So several sons 
of St. Francis were burned at the stake — foiu* were 
burned at Marseilles on May 7, 131 8 — and many were 
cast into prison. But John went too far. He ordered 
the Franciscan authorities to consider whether absolute 
poverty was the genuine basis of their rule, and they 
decided that it was: in the sense of a Bull {Eddit qui 
seminal) of Nicholas III., which allowed them "the 
use" of things without the actual "ownership." John 
revoked the Bull, and in a Decretal of December 8, 
1322 {Ad Condiiorem), declared that this was impos- 
sible nonsense. When the friars retorted that such 
poverty had actually been practised by Christ and his 
Apostles, John consulted the learned doctors of Paris 
and, in the Decretal Cum inter nonnullos (November 

John XXII. : the Court at Avignon 215 

12, 1323), pronounced this thesis heretical. The 
"Spirituals" were now reinforced by abler men, who 
fled to Italy and joined the anti-Papal campaign of 
Louis of Bavaria. Michael de Cesena, the General 
of the Order, nailed to the door of Pisa cathedral a 
dociunent in which he impeached John for heresy. 
WiUiam of Ockham, the English friar, one of the most 
acute of the later schoolmen, and others, discharged 
a shower of invectives which would have made the 
fortune of a sixteenth-centiuy Reformer. John was 
"Anti-Christ," the "Dragon with Seven Heads," and 
so on. They induced Louis of Bavaria to declare 
John's Decretals heretical, and fought shoulder to 
shoulder with the learned Paris doctors, MarsigHo of 
Padua and Jean of Jandun, whose Defensor Pacts 
(1324) was a crushing indictment of the Papal preten- 
sions and vindication of the secular power. All over 
Italy and Germany there was a fierce scrutiny of the 
bases of the Papal claims. The Reformation was 
commencing, two centiu^ies before Luther. 

The spiritual struggle had thus merged in the political 
struggle, owing to the common opposition to John XXII., 
and this must now be considered. Frederic of Austria 
and Louis of Bavaria were both chosen King of the 
Romans, and, as neither had had the full nimiber of 
votes, there was the not unfamiliar struggle for recogni- 
tion. They disregarded John's simimons to his tri- 
bunal, took to the sword, and Frederic was beaten 
and imprisoned in 1322. John coldly acknowledged 
Louis's letter announcing his victory; tmquestionably 
he from the first wanted the imperial crown to pass to 
France and the imperial rule to vanish from Italy. 
Then Louis invaded Italy, and John declared war. 

Italy already gave the Pope concern. The Ghibel- 

2i6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

lines, or Imperialists, had grown powerful in the Pope's 
absence, and their chief leader, Matteo Visconti of 
Milan, a ruthless and exacting ruler, was "Imperial 
Vicar" in the country. When Visconti, in defiance of 
the Pope's commands, gave aid to the Ghibellines of 
Genoa, John, who claimed to represent the Empire 
during the "vacancy," withdrew his title of Vicar and 
awarded it to Robert of Naples. Robert went to con- 
sult John at Avignon, and a campaign followed. Car- 
dinal Bertrand de Poyet — who was, says Petrarch, so 
much like John "in face and ferocity"' that one could 
easily credit the nmiour that he was John's son — ^was 
sent to direct the Papal cause and to denounce the 
Viscontis to the Inquisition. Matteo was found guilty 
of heresy (or contumacious refusal to abandon the title 
of Vicar) , and he and his son were charged with oppres- 
sion of the clergy (which is plausible enough) and with 
a quaint and amusing mixture of magic and other 
devilry.^ Possibly John relied more confidently on 
the troops of Philip of Valois and Henry of Austria, 
whom he successively stmimoned to Italy; but they 
retired almost without a blow. Matteo repented and 
died, but his sons and their associates continued the 

At this jimcture Louis conquered Frederic and sent 
word to the Legate to keep his troops out of imperial 
territory. When the Legate refused, he joined the 
Ghibellines and drew from John a vigorous denimcia- 
tion. He was to abandon the "heretics" and come to 

* Ep, xvii. of the book "Sine titulo." 

'See Michel, "Le Proc^ de Matteo et de Galeazzo Visconti," in 
MSlanges d'archSologie et d'histoire, xxix. (1909), and H. Otto, "Zur 
Italienischen Politik Johanns XXII.," in Quellen und Forschungen aus 
Italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken, Bd. xix. (1911). 

John XX IL: the Court at Avignon 217 

Avignon for the examination of his claim to the Empire. 
Louis, retorting (under the inspiration of the friars) that 
there were heretics at Avignon as well as in Italy, went 
his way, and John turned to France. Charles the 
Fair, the new King, had discovered that, when Clement 
V. had authoriized his marriage with Blanche of Bur- 
gundy, a remote godmothership had been overiooked, 
and he was in the painful position of living with one to 
whom he was not validly married. John declared the 
marriage void, allowed Charles to marry another lady, 
and was soon in conference with Charles and with 
Robert of Naples. Germany took alarm at this plain 
hint of an intention to make Charles Emperor; the 
Italian spiritual war upon the Pope was vigorously 
repeated in that country, and the Diet of Ratisbon 
rejected John's authority and called for a General 

Louis, in 1326, became reconciled with Frederic of 
Austria and was recognized in Germany as sole Emperor, 
but John had gone too far to withdraw, or was too 
deeply involved with Charles of France and Robert of 
Naples. In alliance with the Ghibellines, Louis made 
a triumphant tour over Italy, and on April 18, 1328, 
to the immense joy of his throng of rebel supporters, 
solemnly declared, in St. Peter's, that "James of 
Cahors" was guilty of heresy and treason.' Friar 
Peter of Corbara was substituted for him, with the 
name of Nicholas V., and Rome extdted in the restora- 
tion of the Papacy. But the drama ended as it had 
often ended before. Louis oppressed the country and 
alienated his supporters ; and before the end of the year 
Friar Peter was, with a halter round his neck, at the 
Pope's feet in Avignon and Louis was back in Germany. 

' Baluze, ii., 512; and a later indictment, p. 522. 

2i8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

John refused to compromise honourably with Louis, 
and the agitation against the Papacy in Germany, 
whither all the rebels had now gone, was more bitter 
than ever. 

The next phase of the struggle is not wholly dear. 
John of Bohemia intervened and overran Italy. It 
seems probable that the Pope had nothing to do with 
this invasion, and at first suspected that John was in 
league with Louis ; but that, as John made progress and 
had friendly commimication with Avignon, the Pope 
began to hope that the new development oiBfered him a 
stronger King of Italy (under Papal suzerainty) than 
Robert and a less oppressive protector than Philip VI. 
of France.^ Philip and John visited the Pope at 
Avignon, and it was announced that John was to be 
recognized as King of part of Italy. The curious alli- 
ance of the three reveals some miscalculation. Philip 
must have trusted that John of Bohemia would work 
for him, but the Pope had assuredly no idea of abandon- 
ing his claim to Italy. The issue was singular. The 
Italians, in face of this alliance, united under Robert of 
Naples and overcame the Papal and Bohemian troops. 
John had, as part of the campaign, announced his in- 
tention of transferring the Papal Court to Bologna, 
and the Legate actually began to erect a palace for him. 
When the Bolognese realized that John had no serious 
intention of coming, they joined the Imperialists and 
cast out the Legate and his troops. It is said that the 
collapse of his costly Italian campaign weighed so 
heavily on the Pope that he did not leave his palace 
during the year of life which still remained. 

John's relations with other countries are not of great 
interest. He was almost the master, rather than the 

* See the essay on John's policy, by H. Otto, quoted above. 

John XXII.: the Court at Avignon 219 

slave, of the three French monarchs who ruled during 
his Pontificate, and some of his letters paternally chide 


them for such defects as talking in church. In letters to 
Edward of England he tried to reconcile that monarch 
with Robert Bruce, and he begged more humane treat- 
ment of the Irish, who had appealed for his interven- 
tion. In Poland he excommunicated the Teutonic 
knights for taking Danzig and Pomerania from King 
Ladislas. His eye wandered even farther afield. He 
was genuinely interested in the fate of Christians in 
the East, and sent a mission to the Sultan, who sharply 
dismissed it. No Pope had, in a sense, a wider horizon, 
for John not only sent friars to preach in Armenia and 
Persia, but actually apix)inted a Legate for India, 
China, and Thibet. Yet his ruling of the Christian 
world was singularly slender in comparison with that of 
his great predecessors. His energy was absorbed in 
fiscal and ix)litical matters. In co-operation with Philip 
he sent a fleet against the Saracens, and it won a victory, 
but the Crusade he announced on July 26, 1333, never 
went beyond that naval success. On the other hand, 
when the Pastoureaux, a wild rabble, marched over 
France proclaiming a popular Crusade, John excom- 
municated them for taking the cross without his per- 
mission; of their appalling treatment of the Jews he 
made no complaint, nor did he move when the lepers of 
France were brutally persecuted on some superstitious 
charge of the time. He was oppressive to the Jews, 
and ordered the burning of the Talmud. 

He has, in fine, the distinction of putting forward a 
doctrine which his Church condemns as heretical. 
Preaching on AH Saints' Day in 1331, he suggested that 
probably the saints did not enjoy the direct vision (or 
Beatific Vision) of God in heaven, and would not do 

220 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

so until after the Day of Judgment. There is no doubt 
whatever that he held this as an opinion, though he 
made no ejQfort to impose it on others ; beyond a certain 
liberality in bestowing benefices on clerics who sup- 
ported him. There was a violent agitation in France. 
The Dominican friars and the universities strongly 
opposed the view, and, when the General of the Fran- 
ciscan Order thought it advantageous to support the 
Pope, the King of France swore that he would not 
have his realm sullied by the heresy. This agitation, 
and John's corresix)ndence with Philip VI., make it 
quite clear that the Pope held the heresy, as an opinion. 
A few days before he died, however, he wrote a Bull — 
at least, such a Bull was published by his successor — 
endorsing the received doctrine and declaring that he 
had put forward his theory only "by way of con- 

He died on December 4, 1334, bowed with age and 
saddened by the failure of his work. A more complete 
study of his letters than has yet been made may in 
some measure enlarge our knowledge of his properly 
Pontifical action, but there can be little doubt that 
money and ix)litics chiefly engrossed his attention. 
The chief interest of his Pontificate is the light it throws 
on the preparation for the Reformation. John's fiscal 
policy, however much open to censure, was unselfish; 
but he opened to his even less religious successors the 
road to disaster. 



THE next important stage in the devolution of the 
Papacy is the Great Schism, the spectacle of 
which moved the increasing body of cultivated laymen 
and the better clergy to examine critically the bases of 
the Papal claims and seek an authority which should 
control the wanton conduct of the Popes. The essen- 
tial mischief of the long stay of the Papal Court at 
Avignon is obscured when it is called a Babylonian 
Captivity. Few of the Popes were servile to France, 
and it was not France that detained them on the banks 
of the Rhone. The gravest consequences of their 
voluntary exile were, that the isolation from their 
Italian estates led them to pursue a corrupt and intol- 
erable fiscal policy: that the College of Cardinals de- 
generated and became less scrupulous in the choice of a 
Pope: and, especially, that the rival ambition of French 
and Italian cardinals to control the Papacy led to an 
appalling schism. This phase will be best illustrated 
by an accoimt of the antecedents and the remarkable 
Pontificate of John XXIII. 

The return of the Papal Coiu-t to Rome was mainly 
due to political causes. Clement VI. (i 342-1 352), 
whose voluptuous indolence ignobly crowned the fiscal 

system of John XXIL, was followed by three Popes 


222 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

who at least desired reform. The third of these, 
Gregory XI., was too weak ofresourceless to curb the 
ruthless action of his Legates in Italy, and the sight of 
wild Breton mercenaries and hardly less wild English ad- 
venturers (of Hawkwood's infamous company) spread- 
ing rape and rapine under the Papal banner, disgusted 
the cities and states of the Peninsula. Under the lead 
of Florence, they proceeded to affirm and establish the 
independence of Italy. It was this threat, rather than 
the romantic rebukes of a yoimg nun (Catherine of 
Siena), which drew Gregory XI., in 1376, from the safe 
and luxurious palace-fortress at Avignon. A month 
after his arrival at Rome the Breton hirelings imder 
Cardinal Robert of Geneva committed a frightful 
massacre at Cesena, and Gregory was almost driven 
back to Avignon by the storm which ensued. But he 
died on March 27, 1378, and the cardinals met nervously 
at Rome to choose a successor. 

The din of the bloody encoimter of Gascon, Breton, 
and Roman troops in the streets reached the cardinals 
in the privacy of the Conclave. One day, indeed, the 
armed Romans burst into the sacred chamber, and 
brandished their weapons before the eyes of the terri- 
fied French cardinals. Yet it is generally agreed that 
there was not such compulsion as to invalidate the 
election, and Urban VI. became the legitimate head of 
the Church. In the circimistances a delicate and tact- 
ful policy was required, and the austere Neapolitan, 
of humble birth, who secured the tiara was in this 
respect the least fitted of the cardinals. He violently 
and vituperatively denounced the wealth and luxury 
of his colleagues, and he alienated Italians no less than 
French by the grossness of his manners. Within a 
few months the French cardinals retired to Fondi, 

John XXIII. and the Great Schism 223 

discovered that the election was invalid on accoiint 
of intimidation, and set up Robert of Geneva, a ruthless 
soldier and entirely worldly-minded priest, as Anti- 
Pope, with the title of Clement VII. So the schism 
began, and Christendom split into two bitterly hostile 
' ' obediences. ' ' Clement retired to Avignon , and preyed 
on Prance more avariciously than John XXII. had 
done: Urban's impetuous rudeness wrapped Italy in 
a flame of war once more. In 1389 another Neapolitan, 
Boniface IX., succeeded Urban, and it is during his 
Pontificate that there came upon the scene Baldassare 
Cossa, the unscrupulous adventurer who became John 

Cossa was a Neapolitan, and is said by his hostile 
contemporary Dietrich von Nieheim to have been a 
pirate in his youth.' Many recent historians reject 
this statement, but as it is certain and admitted that 
Cossa's two brothers were condemned to death for 
piracy by Ladislaus of Naples, and it is clear that in 
his youth Cossa took some part in the Angevin-Nea- 
politan war, it is not improbable that Baldassare was 
himself engaged in raiding the Neapolitan commerce. 
He was bom about 1368, of a noble but impoverished 
Neapolitan house, and he seems to have been known to 

^Historia de Vita Papa Joannis XXIII., which must be cited with 
reserve, as the author had a bitter quarrel with John and is often inac- 
curate. See C. Hunger, Zur Geschichte Papst Johanns XXIII. (1876). 
More reliable are the references in the Commentarii rerum suo tempore 
in Italia gestamim (in Muratori, Rerum Italicarum scriptores, xix.)t of 
Leonardo of Arezzo, at one time John's secretary. Leonardo's temper- 
ate verdict, that John was "a great man in temporal things, but a com- 
plete failure and unworthy in spiritual things,'* is endorsed by all. 
Exhaustive bibliographies will be found in E. J. Kitto's excellent works. 
In the Days of the Councils (1908), and Pope John the Twenty-third and 
Master John Hus of Bohemia (19 10). 

224 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the Neapolitan Pope. In his early twenties he forsook 
the army or the sea, for which alone he was qualified, 
and went to study law at Bologna. In 1392 Boniface 
made him Archdeacon at Bologna: in 1396 he was 
summoned to the office of Private Chamberlain at 
Rome, and his career began. 

He was a typical Neapolitan — dark-eyed, keen- 
witted, of very robust frame and very frail moral in- 
stincts — and the Pope needed such men. During the 
first seven years of his Pontificate Boniface was kept 
in check by the older cardinals, but, as they died, he 
sought money by fair or foul means for the recovery of 
Italy. France and Spain sent their gifts to Avignon, 
and England and Germany were not generous. Bene- 
fices, from the highest to the lowest, were sold daily, 
and the ''first fruits" were demanded in advance. As 
the system developed, spies were employed over Italy 
and Germany to report on the health of aged benefici- 
aries, and there was a sordid traffic in ''expectations." 
Baldassare Cossa, the chief instrument of this gross 
simony, had various scales of payment, and the pur- 
chaser of the "expectation" of a benefice might find 
it sold over him to a higher bidder for a "preference." 
A Jubilee had been annoimced for the year 1390, and 
Boniface got the fniits of it, but this did not deter him 
from reaping another golden harvest from a Jubilee 
in 1400. As, moreover, many pilgrims, especially in 
Germany and Scandinavia, were deterred from coming 
to Rome by the bands of robbers and ravishers who 
infested the Papal estates, Boniface generously enacted 
that Germans might obtain the same pardon by visiting 
certain shrines nearer home and paying to Papal agents 
the cost of a journey to Rome. 

These simoniacal practices are established and ad- 

John XXIII. and the Great Schism 225 

mitted, qiiite apart from the testimony of Dietrich. 
We must, indeed, admit the evidence of Dietrich when 
he tells us that he saw these Papal agents spread their 
silk curtains and imfold their Papal banners in the 
churches of Germany, and heard them declare to the 
ignorant people that St. Peter himself had not greater 
power than they. We may also easily believe his as- 
surance that many of the German clergy denounced this 
traflBc in indulgences' and that it brought enormous 
sums to the Papacy. But the precise sums, and the 
romantic stories, which Dietrich gives on hearsay, 
especially in regard to Cossa, must be regarded with 
reserve. He says that Cossa, when Legate at Bologna, 
arrested one of these monk-agents returning to Rome 
with his bags of gold and relieved him; and that the 
monk hanged himself in despair. These are fragments 
of foolish rumour. We cannot deal so summarily with 
his statement that the Chamberlain had his percentage 
of the profits and let it grow in the hands of the usurers ; 
and that he extorted money from prelates by menda- 
ciously representing that Boniface was angry with them 
and offering to mediate. All that we can say with 
confidence is that Cossa was the chief instnmient of 
the Pope's nefarious system, and that, although he had 
no private means, he amassed an enormous fortune. 

* As in modem Spain, the word " traffic '* or "sale ** would be resented. 
The theory is that you give an alms to the Church and the Church 
grants the indulgence. The amount of the alms is fixed according to 
the grace required: there are four different bulas in Spain today. It is 
hardly necessary to add that the agents did not officially sell the pardon 
of sins, but the remission of the punishment due in Purgatory for such 
nns as were confessed. Nevertheless we have the official assurance of 
the Council of Constance (art. 20) that John XXIII. "sold absolution 
both from punishment and guilt,'* and there are other indications of 
this grave abuse. 


226 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

The Coiincil of Constance established this charge 
against him, as we shall see. 

In 1402, Cossa became Cardinal-deacon of St. 
Eustace — the Coimcil of Constance foimd that he 
bought that dignity — and in the following year he was 
made Legate at Bologna. We cannot control Dietrich's 
statement that the Pope wished to put an end to a scan- 
dalous liaison of Cossa's at Rome. It is not improb- 
able, and would not be very unusual at Rome, but the 
fact is that he knew Bologna and was a soldier, and 
Boniface needed a soldier-legate in the north. In a 
very short time Cossa won Bologna from the Milanese 
troops and made it a prosperous and profitable Papal 
possession. He fortified it and restored its institutions, 
even establishing a tmiversity of a very liberal character. 
But he ruled it with an iron hand and groimd it with 
taxes. Even its gamblers and prostitutes had to pay 
the tithe of their earnings, and the gnmiblers who con- 
stantly revolted or attempted to assassinate Cossa were 
mercilessly pimished. Dietrich boldly accuses him 
of violating two himdred maids and matrons of the 
city, but we can do no more than suspect that there 
must have been some foimdation for so large a repute. 
Again the Coimcil of Constance sustains the substance 
of the charge. 

Boniface died on September 29, 1404, and Cossa was 
not present at the Conclave. He had constantly to 
lead his troops against external as well as internal 
enemies. The new Pope, Innocent VII., spent two 
futile years in dreams of peace, and in November, 1406, 
the See again fell vacant. Christendom now clamoured 
for an end of the scandalous schism, and, when Gregory 
XII., an ascetic and worn old cardinal, assumed the 
tiara, he was greeted as ''an angel of light." He 

John XXIIL and the Great Schism 227 

thanked God, with tears in his eyes, that he was chosen 
to end the schism ; if he cotild not get mtiles or galleys, 
he wotild go on foot to meet Benedict XIII. (who had 
succeeded Clement at Avignon) and resign together 
with him. And within a few months Christendom 
witnessed the still more odious spectacle of the two 
Popes, both men of advanced years and great piety, 
straining every nerve to avoid each other and evade 
resignation. They were to meet at Savona, but, as 
Leonardo quaintly says, "whenever there was question 
of their meeting, one would, as if he were a land animal, 
not approach the coast, and the other, as if he were an 
aquatic animal, would not leave the sea." Benedict 
reached Savona; Gregory could not be driven beyond 
Lucca. The best that can be said for him is that he 
was ruled by greedy relatives. At last, on a pretext 
provided by his supporter Ladislaus of Naples, Gregory 
fled back to Rome and refused to listen to any further 
counsel of resignation. 

Christendom, in disgust, now called for a General 
Coimcil. France disowned Benedict and, when he 
excommunicated the King, tore his Bull in halves and 
ordered his arrest. He fled to Perpignan and Gregory 
tp Venice, and the cardinals began to negotiate with 
the princes for the holding of the Council of Pisa, 
Cardinal Cossa, who had disdainfully taken down the 
arms of Gregory XII. at Bologna, and who was in 
league with Florence against Naples, took the lead in 
the new movement. When Gregory excommunicated 
him, he burned the Bull in the market-place. When 
Ladislaus of Naples advanced against Pisa, he united 
his troops to those of Florence and scattered the south- 
erners. When Benedict's representatives asked for a 
safe-conduct through Italy, he said: "If you come to 

228 Crises in the History of the Papacy 


Bologna, with or without a safe-conduct, I'll bum you. 
So the Council met at Pisa, deposed Benedict and Greg- 
ory, and, in effect, set up a third Pope, Alexander V, 
The situation being without precedent, there was no 
canonical basis for such a Council, and no executive 
to enforce the Council's decisions. Benedict and 
Gregory — the one under the protection of Spain and 
the other with the support of Naples, Rimini, and part 
of Germany — continued to fulminate against each 
other, and a third discharge of anathemas only distracted 
Christendom the more. 

Cardinal Cossa set out once more at the head of his 
troops, and, with the aid of Louis of Anjou and the 
Florentines, swept the Neapolitan troops southward 
and opened Rome for Alexander. But that feeble 
and aged Anti-Pope never reached the Lateran. He 
died at Bologna on May 4, 14 10, and Louis of Anjou 
(representing the French influence) and the Florentines 
urged on the cardinals the election of Cossa himself. 
At midnight on May 17th, the expectant crowd at 
Bologna was informed that the cardinals had come to 
an agreement, and an hour later Baldassare Cossa, or 
John XXIII., stepped forth in the scarlet mitre and 
spotless robes of a Vicar of Christ. There are chroni- 
clers who say that he had bribed the electors, and 
chroniclers who say that he had bullied them. The 
first charge is not imlikely, as bribery was now becoming 
common enough on the eve of or during a Conclave, 
but we cannot check these nmiours. Dietrich von 
Nieheim admits that Cossa nominated another cardinal 
for the tiara, and the Council of Constance did not 
impeach the regularity of his election. He was chosen 
because of his vigour and military ability. Such was 
the condition of the Papacy that none seemed to care 

John XXIIL and the Great Schism 229 

that he was "a complete failure and worthless in 
spiritual matters." 

He must have been at that time about forty-three 
years old: a tall, spare, soldierly-looking man, with 
large nose and piercing dark grey eyes imder bushy 
eyebrows. After devoting a few days to the customary 
festivities, he set about the work of enabling Louis of 
Anjou to displace Ladislaus on the throne of Naples 
and thus destroy Gregory's main support. It may have 
been in deference to the feeling of some of the cardinals 
that he first simimoned Benedict and Gregory to resign 
and asked his bitter enemy Ladislaus — the man who 
had condemned his brothers — to pay the arrears of 
sixty thousand ducats which he owed to the Roman 
See. All three contemptuously refused to recognize 
him, and, as Ladislaus presently destroyed the fleet of 
Louis of Anjou and advanced against the Papal troops, 
the prospect was uncertain. John feverishly sought 
allies and funds. He conciliated England, where the 
call for a real Ecumenical Coimcil to depose the three 
Popes was already heard, by suppressing an obnoxious 
Bull of Boniface IX. and by other graces, and he con- 
trived — after the blunders of his legates had roused 
fierce opposition — to get a good deal of money from 
France. Spain still supported Benedict. 

The uncertain element was Germany, where, at the 
time, the outstanding figure was Sigismimd of Himgary. 
Sigismimd had stood aloof from the Coimcil of Pisa. 
For some years he had diverted all money from the 
Papal agents to his own pockets, because Boniface had 
recognized Ladislaus, and he detested the French, who 
had had much to do with the Council at Pisa. His 
support was of material importance to John, as owing 
to the death of Rupert the day after John's election. 

230 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

he became the chief candidate for the Empire. To 
John's delight, Sigismund now sent ambassadors to do 
homage, and an agreement was reached. The Pope was 
to validate the appropriation by Sigismimd of chtirch- 
moneys and influence the Electors in his favour, and 
Sigismimd would support John against Ladislaus.' 
But there was still an element of danger and imcer- 
tainty. Sigismimd had sworn to end the Papal schism, 
and he was known to be favourable to the summoning 
of another and more weighty council. Moreover, 
John, who was a poor diplomatist, made a serious 
blunder. The elected monarch became, by law of the 
Empire, King of the Romans without any Papal con- 
firmation; the imperial crown and title alone were 
given by the Pope. Yet John, seeking to magnify his 
authority, persisted in addressing Sigismimd imtil the 
anxious days of the Council of Constance, as "Elected 
to be King." 

I may tell very briefly the sequence of events in 
Italy. After a year at Bologna, John proceeded to 
Rome and flimg his troops upon the NeapoUtans. 
They won the important battle of Rocca Secca, but, 
owing to the incompetence of the Papal legate who 
held supreme command, they failed to follow up the 
success and Ladislaus recovered. In the next few 
months John heard with increasing alarm that Louis 
of Anjou had returned in despair to France: that the 
ablest Papal commander, Sforza, had transferred his 
services to Naples : that Malatesta of Rimini, the only 
other supporter of Gregory, was winning success in 

' We learn from later letters of the Pope that he worked for Sigismund 
in Gennany, especially when a rival " King of the Romans" was elected. 
See the evidence in Dr. J. Schwcrdfeger's Papst Johann XXIII, und die 
Wahl Sigismunds zum rdmiscJten Konig (1895). 

John XXIIL and the Great Schism 231 

the north: and that the Neapolitans were marching 
against Rome. He levied taxes on the churches and 
citizens of Rome until they became restless. He petu- 
lantly had an effigy of Sforza hanged on a gallows at 
Rome. He pressed the sale of indulgences so flagrantly, 
and by such repellent agents, that the reformers of 
Bohemia burned his Bull in the streets. He excom- 
municated Ladislaus and proclaimed a crusade against 
him; and not a prince in Europe stirred. 

Now seriously concerned, John offered to recognize 
Ladislaus as King of Naples if he would abandon 
Gregory, and that monarch at once basely deserted his 
Pope. He ordered the stubborn old man to quit Gaeta, 
and it is said that the people of Gaeta, who had grown 
fond of him, had to pay his passage to his last refuge, 
the lands of the Lord of Rimini. Ladislaus was made 
Gonfaloniere of the Church, and the Pope promised 
him 120,000 ducats. But so onerous a peace could not 
endure. After some mutual charges in the spring 
of 1413 the NeapoUtan troops approached Rome. The 
Romans assured John that they would eat their child- 
ren rather than surrender, but, when they saw the 
Pope and cardinals secure their own position by cross- 
ing the river, they opened the gates and admitted the 
Neapolitans. Their warrior-Pope, surroimded by car- 
dinals who wept for the treasures they had abandoned 
in Rome, fled to the north, and at length reached 
Florence. Even here the citizens were afraid to admit 
him. They assigned him the bishop's palace outside 
the walls, and from this lowly centre John continued 
his sale of benefices and indulgences. 

One other event will complete the record of John's 
Pontificate, before we begin the story of his undoing. 
The abuses of the Roman Curia had excited, or encour- 

232 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

aged, various hostile movements. There were Lollards 
in England, and followers of Hus and Jerome of Prague 
in Bohemia. These vague and unimportant move- 
ments — from the Papal point of view — ^were left to 
local prelates, but the growing Christian demand for 
another General Coimcil was disquieting. The Council 
of Pisa had put itself above the Popes, and grave 
doctors at many universities argued that a council 
must effect that reform of the Church which Popes 
refused to effect. Probably John XXIII. did not 
appreciate the full significance of this Concihar move- 
ment, but he did see that there was grave danger that 
a Coimcil would depose him, as well as Benedict and 
Gregory, imless he controlled it. He, therefore, in 
14 1 2, announced that a General Coimcil would be held 
at Rome, and he reminded prelates that the Council 
of Pisa had enjoined this. But only a few French and 
Italian prelates responded to his simmions,and a strange 
accident increased his imeasiness. One day, when all 
were assembled in St. Peter's, a screech owl issued 
from a dark corner and perched opposite the Pope. John 
reddened and perspired, as he gazed into the imcanny 
eyes of the bird, and at last he left his seat and broke 
up the sitting. It was there again at the next sitting, 
and was killed only after a great commotion. A strange 
form for the Holy Ghost, the mockers said; a dreadful 
omen for the Pope, said others. Reforms were pro- 
mised, and the works of Wyclif were condemned, but 
the Council was too small to have effect and it was 
prorogued until December i, 1413. 

Meantime John was driven to the north, and from 
Florence he appealed to Sigismund. Many eyes were 
turned to Sigismund from various parts of Europe, and 
that singular monarch took quite seriously the high 

John XXIII. and the Great Schism 233 

function which was thrust upon him of saving and 
reforming Christendom. He was a man of consider- 
able ability, though it was apt to take the form of 
cunning rather than statesmanship, but his narrow 
cupidity, his notorious license in morals, and his general 
indifference to principle made him an incongruous 
instrument for the reform of the Church. He at once 
informed John that the state of the Church was to be 
submitted to a General Council, and a struggle ensued 
between the two as to whether it should be held south 
or north of the Alps. We have the reliable assurance 
of Leonardo, John's secretary at the time, that the Pope 
proposed to send two cardinals with full powers to 
treat, which they were to show to Sigismund, and with 
secret instructions restricting them. John told this 
design, with great complacency, to his secretary,' 
though he did not carry it out. The Papal legates 
met Sigismimd at Como in the autimin and were 
pleased to think that they made an impression on him, 
but John was dismayed to learn that, on October 30th, 
the King of the Romans issued a proclamation to the 
effect that a General Coimcil would be held, under his 
presidency, at Constance, on All Saints' Day, 14 14. 

John is described as stricken with fear and grief at 
the prospect of a coimcil outside Italy, but Sigismund 
was inflexible. They spent two months together at Pia- 
cenza and Lodi, and the Pope must have penetrated the 
King's design. He already leaned to the plan of deposing 
the three Popes and electing another. John was com- 
pelled, on December 9th, to issue a Bull convoking the 
Coimcil, and he then went to Bologna to await the 
attack of the Neapolitans. There, about the middle 
of August, he received the welcome news that Ladislaus 

* Commentarii, p. 928. 

234 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

had been poisoned by the father of one of his mistresses. 
He proposed to break faith with Sigismund and dis- 
avow the Coiincil, but the cardinals restrained him from 
taking this wild step, and on October ist he set out for 
the north, sadly, with a troop of six himdred horse. 
He had for some time wavered between gloomy appre- 
hensions of a mysterious fate which pursued him and 
buoyant confidence in his wealth and power. 

The last words of his friends at Bologna must have 
recurred to him again and again as he passed up the 
autunmal valley of the Adige and entered the snows of 
the Tirol. He would not return a Pope, they said. 
In the Arlberg Pass his carriage was overturned, and 
he exclaimed, as he lay in the snow: "Here I lie, in the 
name of the devil, and I would have done much better 
to stop at Bologna." He remained for some days at 
Meran with Duke Friedrich, whom he made captain- 
general of the Papal troops, with a salary of six thousand 
ducats a year. It was well to make a friend of this 
p>owerful and discontented vassal of Sigismund. At 
last, on October 27th, his troops turned the crest of 
the last low hills before Constance, and he gazed down 
on the hollow between the guardian moimtains. "A 
trap for foxes," he is said to have muttered. On the 
following day he rode into Constance, on his richly 
harnessed white horse, under a canopy of cloth of gold, 
and occupied the episcopal palace. 

For three weeks the snowy roads down the moimtain- 
sides from all directions discharged gay streams of 
princes and prelates, bishops and abbots, theologians 
and lawyers, thieves and prostitutes, bankers and acro- 
bats, upon the sleepy old town, tmtil it seemed to burst 
with a ravening multitude. Something between fifty 
and a hundred thousand visitors had to be housed and 

John XXIII. and the Great Schism 235 

entertained, and it is reported by grave observers that 
more than a thousand prostitutes flocked to Constance 
in the days of the Council.' There were, in the course 
of time, twenty-nine cardinals, thirty-three archbishops, 
a himdred and fifty bishops, a hundred and thirty- 
four abbots, and a hundred doctors of law and divinity : 
among the latter a certain pale and thin man. Master 
John Hus, who did not suspect that he had come to 
be tried on a capital charge. But the Emperor was 
late — ^he was crowned at Aachen on November 8th — 
so the first sitting of the Council, on November 5th, 
was adjourned to the i6th, and then imtil the new year. 
Meantime the thousands of entertainers did their duty, 
and the city rang day and night with revelry, and a 
crowd speaking thirty different languages filled the 
streets and overflowed on to the roofs and into the 
sheds and even the empty tubs of Constance. 

On Christmas morning, two hours after midnight. 
Emperor Sigismund made a stately entrance from the 
Lake and a vast crowd attended John's midnight mass. 
Then the struggle began. John's money circulated 
freely, yet the view that he must be deposed with the 
other two was gaining groimd. He was gouty and his 
vigour was prematurely imdermined, but he fought for 
his tiara. Envoys came to represent Benedict and 
Gregory, and he objected to their being received with 

* The dei^gy had, of course, large troops of lay followers, and numbers 
of lay doctors attended the Council, but we have seen often enough the 
moral state of the clergy themselves in the Middle Ages. A picturesque 
summary of the chroniclers is given by Kitto, Pope John the Twenty-third 
and Master John Hus of Bohemia. See also H. Blumenthal's Die 
Vorgeschichie des Constanzer Concils (1897) and, for the proceedings, 
H. Finke's Acta ConcUii Constanliensis (1896), and H. von der Hardt's 
Magnum (Ecumenicum Constanliense Concilium (1696, etc.)* 

236 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

honour: he was overruled. He held that none less in 
rank than a bishop or abbot should vote, and that the 
voting should be by heads, not nations; and again he 
was overruled, and his Italian prelates would be out- 
voted. Then some anonymous Italian put into circu- 
lation a memoir on his crimes and vices, and he was 
greatly alarmed. To avoid scandal, however, — ^for 
John admitted some of the accusations, — it was sup- 
pressed, but it was decided that he must abdicate. 
After some evasive correspondence, he promised to 
abdicate "if and when Peter de Lima and Angelo Cora- 
rio" did the same, and on March 7th he was compelled 
to embody the formula in a Bull. He became iU and 
desperate, and there were rumours that he was about 
to fly. Sigismund put guards at all the gates, but 
refused to imprison him as the EngUsh, headed by the 
fiery Bishop of Salisbury, demanded. 

On March 20th, Duke Friedrich of Tirol drew all 
Constance to a grand tournament outside the city, and 
in the midst of it he was noticed to receive a message 
and leave the groimd. Presently it was learned that 
the Pope, disguised as a groom, had slipped out of the 
gate on a poor horse, with two companions, and Fried- 
rich had joined them at Schaffhausen. Sigismtmd 
sternly forbade the dissolution of the Coimcil, laid a 
heavy punishment on his vassal, and sent some of the 
cardinals to see John. The Pope declared that he had 
left solely on accoimt of his illness; he would abdicate 
and not interfere with the Coimcil, but the cardinals 
must join him at once or be excommimicated. The 
Coimcil, now led by the great Gerson and other strong 
French doctors, ignored the Pope, and declared that it 
had, direct from Christ, a power to which Popes must 
bqw. As Sigismund's troops were after them, John 

John XXIII. and the Great Schism 237 

and Friedrich fled farther, and at last John quarrelled 
with his supporter and fled in disguise across the Black 
Forest to Freiburg. He arrived within reach of Bur- 
gundy, whose Duke was friendly, and he demanded 
better terms. He would resign on condition that he was 
appointed Perpetual Legate for the whole of Italy, 
with a pension of 30,000 florins; the alternative in his 
mind seems to have been a court at Avignon imder the 
protection of the Duke of Burgtmdy. 

The end of his adventures is well known. The 
burghers of Freiburg refused to protect him and he fled 
to Breisar, where the envoys of the Council came to 
press for his resignation. He put on his rough disguise 
once more, and made off with a troop of Austrian cav- 
alry, but Friedrich, to obtain a mitigation of his own 
sentence, betrayed him. For several days he miserably 
resisted the pressure of the envoys, weeping and wailing 
piteously, and on May 2d the Coimcil summoned him 
to appear before it within nine days to answer charges 
of heresy, schism, simony, and immorality. On the 
seventh day a troop of horse came for him, but he was 
ill and irresolute. On May 14th the patience of the 
Cotmcil was exhausted; it suspended him from oflfice 
and ordered the public trial of the charges which had 
already been examined and on which a mass of evidence 
had been taken. Two days later the great assembly of 
prelates and doctors drew up the appalling indictment, 
in seventy-two articles, of Baldassare Cossa. In the 
main the charges referred to those acts of simony, brib- 
ery, corruption, and tyranny which I have recoimted, 
but it should be added that he was described as "ad- 
dicted to the flesh, the dregs of vice, a mirror of infamy " 
(art. 6), and "guilty of poisoning, murder, and persis- 
tent addiction to vices of the flesh" (art 29). The 

238 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

worst charges of Dietrich were solemnly endorsed by 
the gravest lawyers and priests of Europe. 

John lay, prostrate and in tears, in an inn at Rudolph- 
zell. He wished to submit a defence, but a few friendly 
cardinals advised him to submit, and when, on May 
26th, he heard that the Coimcil had endorsed the in- 
dictment, he made no further resistance. He was de- 
posed on the 29th and accepted the sentence with words 
of humility and repentance. A few days later the 
wretched man was consigned to the castle of Gott- 
lieben, and then to a castle at Mannheim. There was, 
in the following year, a futile attempt to rescue him, 
and he was confined in the castle of Heidelberg, where 
he remained three years, with a cook and two chaplains 
of his once magnificent establishment, composing verses 
on the vanity of earthly things. The hollow words of 
his consecration-ceremony, Sic transit gloria mundi^ 
had for him assumed a terrible reality. 

How Gregory resigned, and Benedict retired with his 
tawdry court to a rocky fortress of his, and the Coimcil 
btUTied John Hus and appointed a new Pope, may be 
read in history.^ Martin left Cossa in Heidelberg, 
but in the spring of 141 9 his keeper was heavily bribed 
and he was allowed to escape to Italy. It must have 
moved many when, as Martin officiated at the altar 
in Florence cathedral, the familiar figure of Baldassare 
Cossa broke from the throng and knelt humbly at his 
feet. He was restored to the rank of cardinal, and, 
apart from a foolish attempt, a few months later, to 

' I have not dwelt on Hus, as the Pope had little to do with him. For 
some time, thinking to please the Emperor, John protected Hus from 
his rabid opponents. The shameful ensnarcment of Hus seems to 
have been done without John's approval, and he was deposed before 
the trial of Hus began. 

John XXIII. and the Great Schism 239 

form a Lombard league against the Emperor, he lived 
peacefully in the house of Cosmo de' Medici imtil his 
death in December (1419). He was buried with pomp 
by the Republic, and the fine monument which Cosmo 
raised in the Baptistery shows that some appreciable 
qualities must have been united with his imdisputed 



THREE grave issues had been laid before the Council 
of Constance: the repression of heresy, the end- 
ing of the Schism, and the reform of the Church "in 
head and members." In the third year of their labours 
the prelates and doctors put an end to the Schism and 
elected Martin V.; and the new Pope soon put an end 
to the Coimcil before it could reform the Church. 
Martin was a Colonna of high ideals and considerable 
ability ; but he was not well disposed to this democratic 
method of reform by Cotmcil, nor was he strong enough 
to sacrifice Papal revenue by suppressing the worst 
disorder, the Papal fiscal system. He rettuned to 
Rome, and the task of restoring the city and the Papal 
estates demanded such resources that he dare not 
abandon the corrupt practices of the Curia. 

Two worthy and able Pontiffs followed Martin, and 
equally failed to bring about a reform. Eugenius IV., 
an austere, though harsh and autocratic, Venetian, 
found that his attempts to recover Papal territory and 
curb the Conciliar party would not permit him to re- 
form the financial system. The reformers forced on 
him the Council of Basle in 1431, but its renewal of 
the Schism and creation of a last Anti-Pope, when he 

resisted its proposals, discredited the Conciliar move- 


Alexander VI., the Borgia-Pope 241 

ment. Reform miist come from without: Popes and 
cardinals could not effect it, and in the prevailing 
creed there was no canonical basis for the action of 
a Council in defiance of them. Nicholas V., a quiet 
man of letters, crowned the financial and political 
work of his two predecessors with a great artistic 
restoration. He left politics to JEneas Sylvius and 
opened the gates of Rome to the fairer form of the 
Renaissance. Greek artists and scholars were now 
pouring into Italy — Constantinople fell to the Turks 
during this Pontificate (1453) — and fostering the 
growth of the Htmianist movement. Rome began 
to assiune its rich mantle of mediaeval art, and the 
Papacy seemed to smile once more on a docile and 
prosperous Christendom. 

But the restoration had been accomplished by an 
evasion of reform, and the new culture was sharpening 
the pens of critics. One of these inquisitive scholars, 
Lorenzo Valla, was actually declaring that the "Dona- 
tion of Constantine" was a forgery. Many denounced, 
in fiery prose or with the cold cynicism of the epigram, 
the luxury and vice of the higher clergy. Heresy 
hardened in Bohemia, and, among the stricter ranks of 
the faithful, men like Nicholas of Cusa, John Capis- 
trano, and Savonarola were raising ideals which, if they 
rebuked the laity, far more solemnly rebuked the clergy. 
And just at this critical period the Papacy entered 
upon a development which ended in the enthronement 
of Alexander VI., Julius II., and Leo X.; the Reforma- 
tion inevitably followed. 

At the death of Nicholas V., the Orsini and Colonna 
cardinals came to a deadlock in their struggle for the 
Papacy, and a neutral and innocuous alternative was 
sought in Alfonso Borgia (or, in Spanish style, Borja), a 


242 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Spanish canonist of some scholarly distinction. Calixtus 
III., as he named himself, was a gouty valetudina- 
rian who lay abed most of the day in pious conversa- 
tion with friars. He very properly disdained the new 
art and culture, and saved the Papal funds to meet the 
advancing Turks. He had, however, one weakness, 
which was destined to prove very costly to the Papacy. 
There was a tradition of nepotism at Rome, and Calix- 
tus had nephews. While he was Bishop of Valencia, 
his sister Isabella had come to him from Xativa, their 
native place, with her two sons, Pedro Luis and Rodrigo. 
When, in 1455, he became Pope, he sent Rodrigo to 
study at Bologna and enriched him with benefices. 
Pedro Luis was reserved for a lay career, and Juan 
Luis Mila, son of another sister, was sent with Rodrigo 
to Bologna. 

At this time Rodrigo Borgia was in his twenty-fifth 
or twenty-sixth year : an exceptionally handsome young 
Spaniard, with the most charming Spanish manners, 
and with rich sensuous lips and an eye for maidens 
which escaped his imcle's notice. He and his cousin 
were, within a year, made cardinals. In December 
(1456) he was appointed legate for the March of An- 
cona, and in the following May he was, in spite of the 
murmurs of the cardinals, promoted to the highest and 
most lucrative office at the Court, the Vice-Chancellor- 
ship. His elder brother became Duke of Spoleto, 
Gonfaloniere of the Papal army, and (in 1457) Prefect 
of Rome. Other needy Spaniards came over the sea 
in droves, and the disgusted Romans were soon ousted 
from the best positions. In 1458, however, Calixtus 
fell ill, and was reported to be dead; and the Romans 
chased the '* Catalans" out of the city. Rodrigo at 
first retired with his more hated brother, but he cour- 

Alexander VL, the Borgia- Pope 243 

ageously returned on August 6th, just in time to witness 
the actual death of his uncle. 

JEneas Sylvius mounted the throne, imder the name 
of Pius II., but the Hiunanists looked in vain for favour 
to that genial diplomatist, traveller, and liUSrateur. 
He had reached a gouty and repentant age, and his 
one pre-occupation was to stir a lethargic Christendom 
to a crusade against the Turks. Cardinal Rodrigo 
had been useful to him, reserving a vacant benefice 
for him now and again, so he kept his place and contin- 
ued to win for himself wealthy bishoprics and abbeys. 
For a moment, in 1460, Rodrigo trembled. Pius had 
sent him to direct the building of a cathedral at Siena, 
and the Pope startled his Vice-Chancellor with a stem 
letter. Rodrigo and another cardinal, the Pope heard, 
had entertained a number of very frivolous yoimg 
ladies for five hours in a private garden. They had 
excluded the parents of these girls, and there had been 
"dances of the most licentious character" and other 
things which "modesty forbids to recotmt." It was 
the talk of the town.^ From the kind of dances and 

' The letter is given in Raynaldus, Annales EccUsiastici, year 1460, 
n. 31, and is translated in Bishop Mathew's Life and Times of Rodrigo 
Borgia (1912), p. 35. It is misrepresented in Baron Corvo's Chronicles 
of the House of Borgia (1901, p. 64). The chief apologist for Alexander, 
A. Leonetti (Papa Alessandro VI. , 1880), made the easy suggestion that 
the letter was a forgery, but Cardinal Hergenroether found the original 
in the Vatican archives. See the able essay by Comte H. de L'Epinois 
(another Catholic writer) in the Revue des Questions Historiques 
(April I, 1881), p. 367. He shows, by the use of original doctunents, 
that the apologetic efforts of Ollivier, Leonetti, and a few others, are 
futile. Of these efforts the leading Catholic historian of the Papacy, 
Dr. L. Pastor, observes: "In the face of such a perversion of the truth, 
it is the duty of the historian to show that the evidence against Rodrigo 
is so strong as to render it impossible to restore his reputation'' (The 
History of the Popes, iL, 542). 

244 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

women which Alexander had in the Vatican long after- 
wards we can imagine the things which startled Siena. 
Rodrigo urged that there had been exaggeration, but 
the Pope, while admitting the possibility of this, again 
sternly bade him mind his behaviour. 

The long discussion of the morals of Alexander VI. 
has, in fact, now ended in entire agreement that by the 
year 1460, at least, he was openly immoral. The Papal 
and other documents relating to his children — ^at least 
six in niunber — ^which have been foimd in the Vatican 
archives and in the private archives of the Duke of 
Ossuna show an extraordinary laxity at Rome. There 
is a Bull of Sixtus IV., dated November 5, 148 1, le- 
gitimizing the birth of Pedro Luis Borgia, *'son of a 
cardinal-deacon and an immarried woman"; he is 
described as "a young man," and was probably bom 
about 1460. There is the marriage contract of Girolama 
Borgia, dated 1482, which refers to the '* paternal love" 
of the Vice-Chancellor; she must then have been at 
least thirteen years old. There is a document, dated 
October i, 1480, dispensing from the bar of illegitimacy 
Caesar Borgia, "son of a cardinal-bishop and a married 
woman"; and he is described as in his sixth year, or 
bom about 1475. There is a deed of gift of Rodrigo 
to Juan Borgia, "his carnal son," whose birth must fall 
either in 1474 or 1476. There are documents referring 
to the celebrated Lucrezia, whose birth is generally put 
in 1478, and to Jofre Borgia, who was born about 1480; 
and there are documents from which we have — ^as we 
shall see later — the gravest reason to conclude that the 
Pope had a son in 1497 or 1498, when he approached 
his seventieth year. Except that a few hesitate, in 
face of the strongest evidence, to admit the last child, 
no serious historian of any school now questions these 

Alexander VL, the Borgia-Pope 245 

facts, and the evidence need not be examined in 

At least four of these children were bom of Vannozza 
(or Giovannozza) dei Catanei, a Roman lady who was 
the Cardinal's mistress from about 1460 to i486. The 
story that she was an orphan entrusted to his care and 
seduced by him is not reliable. Nothing is confidently 
known about her early years, but her epitaph has been 
discovered, and it honours her, not only for her "signal 
probity and great piety," but because she was the 
mother of Caesar, Juan, Jofre, and Lucrezia Borgia. 
Pedro Luis and Girolama may have been bom of an 
earlier mistress, but it is not at all certain. Vannozza, 
who married three times, is constantly mentioned, by 
the ambassadors, as Borgia's mistress. She had a 
handsome mansion near the Cardinal's palace and the 
Vatican, and she entertained there and in her country 
house long after Borgia became Pope and replaced her 
by a yoimger mistress. 

These moniunents of parentage are almost the only 

' The decisive documents, f xom the archives of the Duke of Ossuna, 
are published by Thuasne in his edition of Burchard's Diarium (Appen- 
dix to vol. iii.). Dr. Pastor (ii., 453) has a good summary of them, and 
there is other evidence in the Lucrezia Borgia of Gregorovius. See 
also the essay of Comte H. de L'Epinois, quoted above, and "Don 
Rodrigo de Borja und seine S6hne," by C. R. von Hdfler, in the Denk' 
schriften der Kaiserlichen Akadetnie der WissenschafUn^ Bd. 73. The 
chief original authorities arc J. Burchard {Diarium^ edited by Thuasne, 
3 vols., 1884) and 8. Infessura {Diario, in Muratori, iii.)» and the de- 
spatches of the Italian ambassadors at Rome. Burchard and Infessura 
are gossipy and hostile, and must be controlled. Recent works on the 
Boigias are too apt to reproduce lightly the romantic statements of 
later Italian historians or contemporary Neapolitan enemies. The 
work of Bishop Mathew, to which I have referred, is less judicious than 
his volume on Hildebrand. Bishop Creigh ton's History of the Papacy 
is rather too indulgent to Alexander and needs supplementing by the 
documents in Pastor and Thuasne. 

246 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

evidences of the existence of Cardinal Borgia under 
Piiis II. and Paul II. In 1471 a pious and learned 
Franciscan friar, Sixtus IV., assumed the tiara, and it 
is an indication of the strange temper of the times 
that under such a man the Papal Court became more 
corrupt than ever.* Sixtus vigorously restored the 
secular rule of the Papacy and encouraged the ar- 
tistic and cultiu-al development, but his nepotism 
was shameless and profotmdly harmful. One of the 
nephews whom he drew from the obscurity of a 
Franciscan monastery and made a prince of the 
Church was Pietro Riario, who spent 260,000 ducats, * 
and within two years of his promotion wore out his 
life in the most flagrant dissipation. His immense 
palace, with its magnificent treasures, its five hundred 
servants in scarlet silk, and its prodigious banquets, 
was the home of every species of vice; and it is said 
that his chief mistress, Tiresia, flaunted eight hundred 
ducats' worth of pearls on her embroidered slippers. 
Another nephew was the sterner, though also immoral, 
Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere — also brought from a 
monastery — ^whom we shall know as Julitis II. Other 
cardinals promoted by the friar-Pope were equally 
notorious for their indulgence and for the imscrupulotis 
quest of money to sustain it. 

' M. Brosch, the scholarly author of a study of Julius II. (Papsi Julius 
II., 1878), observes that research in the Rovere archives has discovered 
no trace of the Paolo Riario who is assigned as the father of Sixtus's 
nephews, and concludes that they were his natural sons. But Paolo 
Riario is expressly mentioned in the funeral oration on Cardinal Pietro 
Riario, and is more fully described in Leone Cobelli's Cronache Forltvesi. 
There is no sound reason to impeach the chastity of this Pope, as even 
Creighton does. 

* The gold ducat is estimated at about ten shillings of English money, 
but probably this does not express its full purchasing power. 

Alexander VL, the Borgia-Pope 247 

From the Bulls of Sixtus which I have quoted, it is 
clear that he was acquainted with the vices of Borgia, 
yet he sent him as legate to Spain, to excite interest 
in the crusade, in the spring of 1472. In spite of some 
compliments, it does not appear that Borgia did more 
than impress his countrymen with his display and gal- 
lantry, and he returned toward the close of 1473 and 
built one of the most stately palaces in the rich quarter 
which was now rising rotmd the Vatican. When Sixtus 
died, in 1484, he made a resolute effort to get the tiara. 
The dispatches of the ambassadors who now represented 
the northern States at the Vatican afford us a valuable 
means of checking the chroniclers, and they put it 
beyond question that Borgia and Giuliano della Rovere 
entered upon a corrupt rivalry for the Papacy. Giuli- 
ano was now a tall, serious-looking man of forty: re- 
served in speech and brusque in manners, a good soldier 
and most ambitious courtier. Although he was known 
to have children, he kept a comparatively sober house- 
hold and reserved his wealth for special occasions of 
display and for bribery. Borgia was his senior by 
thirteen years, but he had the buoyancy, gaiety, and 
sensuality of a young man. He, too, kept a moderate 
table and gambled little, but his amours were notorious 
and one could not please him better than by providing 
a ballet of handsome women. To these wealthy "up- 
starts" the haughty Orsini and Colonna were bitterly 
opposed, and the annoimcement of the death of Sixtus 
let loose a flood of passion. The splendid mansion of 
Count Riario, another nephew of the late Pope, was 
sacked, the Orsini entrenched themselves on Monte 
Giordano, and the other cardinals filled their halls 
with armed men. 

In the Conclave it was soon apparent that neither 

248 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Rcxirigo nor Giuliano could command the necessary 
two thirds of the votes, and they agreed to adopt 
Cardinal Cib6, a Genoese noble who had outbumed the 
passions of youth before he entered the service of the 
Church. During the night of August 28-29, when 
the supporters of Cardinal Barbo (who seemed to be 
sure of election) had confidently retired to their cells, 
Rodrigo and Giuliano, by intrigue and bribery, secured 
a majority for Cib6. ' He became Innocent VIII. the 
next morning, and during the eight years of his amiable 
and futile Pontificate the College of Cardinals steadily 
sank. Innocent's natural son was drawn from his 
decent obscurity and made one of the richest and fastest 
nobles of Rome; and women were hardly safe even in 
their own homes when Pranceschetto Cib6 roamed the 
streets at night, with his cutthroats, in one of his wine- 
flushed moods. He took so ardently to the new cardi- 
halitial pastime of gambling that in one night he lost 
100,000 ducats to Cardinal Riario. Cardinal la Balue 
left at his death a forttme of 100,000 ducats. Cardinal 
Ascanio Sforza, brother of the ruler of Milan, was the 
leading sportsman of Roman society. Cardinal Lorenzo 
Cib6 owed his red hat to the fortimate circumstance 
that he was an illegitimate son of the Pope's brother. 
Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, who was one day to be 
Leo X., had received the tonsure in his eighth year and 
the title of cardinal in his fourteenth. Cardinals 
Savelli, Sclafenati, and Sanseverino were members of 
the fast and luxurious group. Each cardinal main- 
tained a large palace, with htmdreds of gay-liveried 
servants and ready swordsmen, and the wealthier seem 
to have studied with care the pages in which Macrobius 
describes the exquisite or colossal banquets of the older 

' See the dispatches quoted in Thuasne's Burchard, vol. iL 

Alexander VI., the Borgia-Pope 249 

pagans. Each — apart from the minority of grave and 
virtuous cardinals — had his faction in the city, and, as 
carnival time approached, they were engrossed for 
weeks in the preparation of the superb cars and brilliant 
troops of horse by which each sought to prove his 
superior fitness for the chair of Gregory I. and Gregory 
VII. Innocent VIII. smiled ; and the thimders gathered 
beyond the Alps. 

The state of Rome was in accord with the state of the 
Sacred College. We may hesitate to believe Infessura 
when he tells us that, if criminals were by some chance 
arrested, they bought their liberty at the Vatican; 
but we have in Burchard's Diary a sombre, incidental 
indication of the condition of Rome. There is in modem 
literature some tendency to look with indulgent eye 
on the coloured gaiety of late mediaeval Rome, but — to 
say nothing of the ideals which the cardinals professed 
— the insecurity of life and property and the widespread 
brutality show that this license was far removed from 
genuine Humanism. Some years later, when Rodrigo's 
son Juan was murdered, a boatman said, when they 
asked why he had not reported seeing a body cast into 
the river, that it was not customary to have any inquiry 
made into a nightly occiurence of that kind. Rodrigo 
Borgia, the Vice-Chancellor, paid no heed to this con- 
dition of the city. He added year by year to the long 
list of his bishoprics and emoluments, and prepared to 
renew the struggle for the tiara. He lost, or discarded, 
Vannozza when she married her third husband in i486 
and entered upon a more sordid and equally notorious 
liaison. His cousin, Adriana Orsini, had charge of a 
young orphan, Giulia Pamese, a very beautiful, golden- 
haired girl. She married Adriana's son, Orso Orsini, 
in 1489 — ^her fifteenth year — and at the same time be- 

250 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

came the Cardinal's mistress. Adriana was rewarded 
with a considerable influence and the charge of the 
yoimg Lucrezia Borgia.^ 

The death of Innocent on July 25, 1492, led to 
fierce intrigue and passionate encounters. There were 
more than two hundred murders in Rome during the 
fourteen days before the Conclave, for which twenty- 
two cardinals were, on August 6th, immured in the 
Sistine Chapel. Giuliano della Rovere had spoiled 
his prospect by too patent a use of his influence on 
Innocent VIII., and Borgia set himself to win the next 
most important rival, Ascanio Sforza. Historians 
sometimes smile at the statement of Infessura, that 
four mule-loads of silver passed from Borgia's palace 
to that of Sforza, but it is not improbable. For some 
centuries there had been a custom (abolished a few years 
later by Leo X.) of sacking the palace of the cardinal 
who was elected Pope, and it was not tmusual to take 
precautions. Borgia may have sent the silver on this 
pretext, as Infessura suggests, and he would hardly 
expect it to be returned. It is, in fact, now certain 
that Sforza was bribed with gifts far more valuable 
than Borgia's table silver; Borgia offered, and after- 
wards gave him, his splendid palace, the Vice-Chancel- 
lorship, the bishopric of Erlan (worth 10,000 ducats a 
year), and other appointments. The sober Cardinal 
Colonna accepted the abbey of Subiaco (or 2000 ducats 
a year). Eleven cardinals seem to have sold their 
votes, and Borgia already had three supporters and his 
own vote. He secured his majority and hastily retired 

' I may repeat that I am not reprcxlucing disputed statements, or 
relying on uncertain chronicles, in these chapters. The evidence may 
be examined in Thuasnc, Pastor, L'Epinois, Creighton, Gregorovius, 
and von Reumont (Geschichte der Stadt Ratn^ 3 vols., 1867-8). 

Alexander VL, the Borgia-Pope 251 

behind the altar, where Papal vestments of three sizes 
were laid out, and the genial Romans presently roared 
their greetings to Alexander VI. ^ 

Rome and Italy then siistained their parts in the 
comedy. Alexander, although now sixty years old, 
was a vigorous and capable man, and some advantage 
would be expected from his Pontificate. But one's 
sense of hiunour is excited when one reads in Burchard's 
Diary, or in the letter (reproduced by Thuasne) written 
by the General of the Camaldolite monks, the descrip- 
tion of the rejoicings at Rome. After the coronation at 
St. Peter's on August 27th, Alexander received, on the 
steps of the great church, the greetings of the orators 
who represented the northern cities. One wonders 
what was the countenance of the massed prelates and 
nobles when the Genoese orator read: "Thou art so 
adorned with the glory of virtue, the merit of discipline, 
the holiness of thy life . . . that we must hesitate to 
say whether it is more proper to offer thee to the Pon- 
tificate or to offer that most sacred and glorious dignity 
to thee." And, as Alexander passed in stately proces- 
sion to the Lateran, he read on the triumphal arches 
which adorned the route, such maxims as " Chastity and 
Charity," and "Great was Rome imder Caesar, now is 
she most great. Alexander the Sixth reigns: Caesar 
was a man, this is a God." 

I make no apology for inserting these apparently 
trivial details in so condensed a narrative. They, most 
of all, illumine the next momentous phase of the history 
of the Papacy, In that year, 1492, a little German 

» See the evidence in Thuasne (iL, 6io), L'fipinois (pp. 389-91), and 
Pastor (v., 382). A writer in the American Catholic Quarterly Review 
(1900, p. 262) observes: "That Borgia secured his election through the 
rankest simony is a fact too well authenticated to admit a doubt." 

252 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

boy, named Martin Luther, sat at his books in the 
remote town of Mansfeld. 

Infessnra records that Alexander opened his Pon- 
tificate with large promises and small instalments of 
reform. He was going to improve the condition of 
Rome and the Church, to pacify Italy, and to check 
the Turks; he would remove his children from Rome 
and reduce the number of sinecures at the Curia. He 
did, in fact, make a drastic beginning of the administra- 
tion of justice, and even appointed certain hours during 
which he would himself hear grievances. Possibly he 
had a sincere mood of reform; though we are not dis- 
posed to be charitable when we recall the appalling 
levity with which, a few years later, after the murder 
of his son, he returned to vicious ways. Whatever his 
initial mood was, he soon entered upon courses which 
made his Pontificate one of the most degraded in the 
annals of the Papacy. Modem research has discred- 
ited some of the most romantic crimes attributed to 
him, but it leaves on his memory an indictment which 
no eager search for good qualities can materially lessen. 

He sustained the scandal of his personal conduct 
imtil the end of his life, and I will dismiss it briefly. 
•During the first four years of his Pontificate, the youth- 
ful Giulia Orsini was his chief favorita — others are 
occasionally mentioned with that title by the ambas- 
sadors — and she was known to the wits of Rome as 
"the Spouse of Christ." She and Adriana Orsini and 
Girolama (the Pope's elder daughter) are described 
as "the heart and eyes of Alexander," and suitors had 
to seek their favour. When Giulia's brother Alexander 
received the red hat (Sept. 20, 1493), Rome gave the 
future Pope — who was by no means without personal 
merit — the name of "The Petticoat Cardinal." When 

Alexander VI., the Borgia-Pope 253 

her daughter Laura was bom in 1497, the Pope was 
generally believed to be the father; though that remains 
a mere nmiour. Pucci, in one of his dispatches, gives us 
a quaint picture. Giulia lived in Lucrezia's palace, 
apart from her husband, and, when the ambassador 
called one day in 1493, she dressed her long golden hair 
in his presence, and insisted that he must see the baby ; 
and he remarks that the baby was "so very like the 
Pope that one can readily believe he was the father.'* 
Giulia was an almost indispensable figure for some years 
at the domestic (and even greater than domestic) fes- 
tivities in the Vatican, laughing with the cardinals at 
the prurient comedies and still more prurient dances 
which enlivened the sacred palace.* 

The last child attributed to him, though not accepted 
by all the authorities, seems to have been bom in 1496 
(his sixty-sixth year). There is a doctunent dated 
September i, 1501, legitimizing a certain Juan Borgia, 
but there are two versions of this document.* The 
first version describes him as the child of Caesar Borgia: 
the second says that he was bom " not of the said Duke, 
but of us [Alexander] and the said married woman." 
Creighton made the singular suggestion that possibly 
Alexander was giving prestige to an illegitimate off- 
spring of his son, but it is now agreed that the second 
version is the more authentic; it was to be kept in re- 
serve for some grave dispute of his rights. The dis- 
tinguished Venetian Senator Sanuto tells us^ that. 

' Again I may refer to the convenient summaries of the evidence in 
P^tor (v., 417), L'Epinois (398), Gregorovius (Appendix, no. 11, etc.)» 
and Creighton (iv., 203). 

' There are copies, reproduced by Gr^orovius, in the archives at the 
Vatican, at Modena, and at Ossuna. 

> Diarii (ed. F. Stefani), i., 369. 

254 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

according to letters received from the Venetian ambas- 
sador at Rome and from private persons, the Pope 
had, about this time, a child by a married Roman lady, 
with the connivance of her father, and that the angry 
husband slew his father-in-law and stuck his head on a 
pole, with the inscription: "Head of my father-in-law, 
who prostituted his daughter to the Pope." These 
concurrent testimonies are grave. Most historians 
now rightly reject the charge that Alexander was inti- 
mate with his daughter Lucrezia, since it rests only on 
bitterly hostile Neapolitan gossip; but we cannot so 
easily set aside the persistent statements of the ambas- 
sadors that a new favorita appears at the Vatican from 
time to time. These were sometimes ladies of Lucrezia's 

Lucrezia, a merry, childish-looking, golden-haired 
girl, with her father's high spirits and constant smile, 
is not likely to have remained virtuous in such sturound- 
ings, but there is no serious evidence of incest. Before 
her father's election she was betrothed to a Spanish 
youth of moderate family, but her father cancelled the 
espousals and married her, at the Vatican, in 1493, to 
Giovanni Sforza. She was then, it is calculated, fifteen 
years old. Twelve cardinals and a hundred and fifty 
of the great ladies of Rome attended the wedding; and 
some of the prettier ladies remained to sup with the 
Pope and cardinals, and applaud the loose comedies 
he provided. Giulia and Lucrezia were present. 
When the Pope's policy estranged him from Milan, he 
forced Lucrezia's husband to swear that the marriage 
had not been consimmiated, and dissolved it. It 
seems probable that Giovanni, in revenge, then put 
into circulation the suggestion of incest. Lucrezia 
married Alfonso of Naples, who was murdered by her 

Alexander VI., the Borgia-Pope 255 

brother in 1500. She then married the son of the Duke 
of Ferrara: and there is perhaps no more terrible in- 
dictment of the Papal Court imder Alexander than the 
fact that, when his daughter was removed from it to 
Ferrara, she earned, and kept until her death, a just 
repute for virtue and benevolence. 

These marriages introduce us to Alexander's political 
activity, on which some recent historians have passed 
a somewhat lenient judgment. Apart, however, from 
the treachery and brutality with which his aims were 
often enforced, we shall find that at his death he left 
the Papacy almost landless and impoverished, and we 
must conclude that his chief objects were his personal 
security and the aggrandizement of his children. 

At the time of Alexander's accession, the duchy of 
Milan was improperly held by Lodovico Sforza, brother 
of the Cardinal Ascanio, who sought to convert his 
temporary regency into a permanent sovereignty. 
In this ambition he had the support of France, while 
Ferrante of Naples endeavoured to enforce the claim 
of the rightful Duke, Giovanni Galeazzo. Alexander's 
indebtedness to Ascanio bound him at once to the Sf or- 
zas, and the imprudence of Ferrante in helping his com- 
mander, Virginio Orsini, to purchase from the nephew 
of the late Pope certain towns which Alexander re- 
garded as Papal fiefs, gave him an occasion for animos- 
ity. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere was implicated 
in this sale, and when the Pope angrily rebuked him, 
he fled to Ostia and fortified that commanding town. 
Alarmed at this cohesion of his enemies and the sup- 
port of their designs by Florence, Alexander entered 
into a coimter-league with Milan, Venice, Siena, Fer- 
rara, and Mantua, and married his daughter to Giovanni 
Sforza. Ferrante, however, appealed to Spain, sub- 

256 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

mitting (with the support of Cardinal della Rovere) 
that the corrupt election and profligate life of Alexan- 
der demanded the attention of a General Council, and 
the Pope sought a compromise. The matter of the 
towns in Romagna was adjusted, Alexander's son 
Jofre was betrothed to an illegitimate daughter of 
Alfonso of Calabria, arid his younger son, Juan, Duke 
of Gandia, was wedded to a Spanish princess. Caesar 
was destined for the Church and was made a cardinal 
on September 20, 1493. As Alexander had sworn 
before his election not to create new cardinals, and now 
calmly absolved himself from his promise and promoted 
several, the hostile cardinals again angrily deserted him. 
Ferrante died on January 27, 1494, and the Pope 
had to confront a delicate problem. France, instigated 
by Milan, pressed a claim to the kingdom of Naples, 
and Alfonso II. demanded the investiture in succession 
to Ferrante. Charles of France refused to be consoled 
with the Golden Rose which Alexander sent him in 
refusing to recognize his claim to Naples, and he threat- 
ened a General Council or a separation of the French 
Church. When Alexander proceeded to take Ostia by 
force, driving Cardinal Giuliano to France, and sent 
Caesar to crown Alfonso at Naples, the French monarch 
annoimced that he would lead his army into Italy in 
order to recover Naples, to reform the Church, and to 
conquer the Turks. The latter purpose furnished the 
Pope with a pretext for a disgraceful move. Djem, the 
brother of the Sultan Bajazet, had been enjoying 
the dissipations of Rome since 1489, and Bajazet paid 
the Papacy 40,000 ducats a year to keep his yoimger 
brother in this gilded captivity. Since Alexander's 
accession, Bajazet had refused to pay the fee, and the 
Pope now wrote to the Sultan to say that the King of 

Alexander VI., the Borgia-Pope 257 

France was coming to seize Djem and make him the 
pretext for a war on the Turks; Bajazet must at once 
send 40,000 ducats to enable him to resist the French. 
The Sultan sent the money, but his and the Pope's 
envoy were captured by Cardinal della Rovere's brother, 
and were relieved of the money and the Sultan's letter. 
When this letter was published, Christendom learned 
with horror that the Sultan had offered its Pope 300,000 
ducats if he would have Djem assassinated. * 

Of the war which followed little need be said. As 
the victorious French advanced, Alexander tremblingly 
vacillated. At one moment he imprisoned the pro- 
French cardinals, and then released them; and at an- 
other moment he packed his treasures for flight, and 
then decided to meet the French King. Alfonso be- 
wailed that the Pope's arm was too weak or too cowardly 
to launch an anathema against the invader. In the 
end the Pope met and disarmed Charles. To the 
intense disgust of Giuliano della Rovere, who had come 
with the King in expectation of the tiara, he persuaded 
Charles that an Italian, even in the chair of Peter, 
could hardly be expected to lead a saintly life; and to 
the equal indignation of Alfonso he, while refusing to 
recognize Charles's claim to the throne of Naples, 
abandoned the Neapolitan alliance and gave his son 
Caesar as a hostage of his good behaviour. With similar 
treachery to the Sultan he abandoned Djem to Charles, 
yet stipulated that the yearly 40,000 ducats should 
stiU go to the Papal treasury.* 

'Alexander said that the letter published was a forgery, and some 
historians have sought to prove this by internal evidence. It is the 
general feeling of recent authorities that the letter is, at leastin sub- 
stance, genuine. See Creighton (iv., Appendix 9) and Pastor (v., 429). 

* Djem died shortly afterwards, and it was rumoured that Alexander 

258 Crises in the Historj'^ of the Papacy 

Charles took Naples, and soon learned that the ver- 
satile Pope had, behind his back, entered into a league 
against him with Maximilian of Germany, Ferdinand 
of Spain, Venice, and Lodovico Sforza. Alexander 
prudently quitted Rome when the French King re- 
turned, and fiung after him a feeble threat of anathema, 
as he was cutting his way through the allies. But by 
the aggrandizement of his family he made an evil use 
of the peace which followed. Caesar was made legate 
for Naples and his nephew Juan legate for Perugia ; and 
to his favourite son Juan, Duke of Gandia, he assigned 
the important Papal fief of the duchy of Benevento, to 
be held by him and his heirs for ever. Even loyal 
cardinals grimibled at the scandal, while the outspoken 
and more distant critics spread in every coimtry the 
story of his private life. Alexander, delivered from the 
menace both of France and Naples, cast aside all re- 
straint. But his gaiety was soon darkened by a grave 
tragedy, and it is, perhaps, the most precise and most 
damning characterization of the man to record that 
even this appalling catastrophe, occurring near the 
close of his seventh decade of life, did not disturb for 
more than a few months the licentious course of his 

On June 14, 1497, Vannozza gave a banquet to her 
sons and a few friends in the suburbs. Caesar and 
Juan rettimed to the city together, and were joined by 
a masked man who had for some weeks been seen in 
commimication with the yoimg Duke. Juan left his 
brother with a light hint that he had an assignation, 
and the same night he was murdered and his body 

had earned the 300,000 ducats by administering a slow poison before 
he left Rome. But the better authorities tell us that the weakened and 
dissolute youth contracted a chill and died of bronchitis. 

Alexander VI., the Borgia- Pope 259 

thrown into the Tiber. We are as far as contemporaries 
were from identifying the murderer. That it was 
Caesar Borgia few serious historians now believe. That 
suggestion did not arise imtil nine months after the 
murder, and the motives alleged are not convincing. 
It is more plausibly claimed that the Sforzas and the 
Orsini adopted this means of striking at the heart of 
the Pontiff, but it is equally possible that Juan incurred 
the penalty of some dangerous seduction. I am con- 
cerned only with Alexander. Appalled by this sudden 
clouding of his prosperity, the Pope summoned his 
cardinals and announced with tears that he would 
remove his children from Rome and abandon his cor- 
rupt ways. Six cardinals were at once appointed to 
draw up a scheme of Church-reform, and the draft of 
a Bull, which is still to be seen in the Vatican archives, 
shows with what devotion Cardinals Costa and Caraffa 
and their colleagues applied themselves to the long- 
desired task. But before the end of the year Alexander 
had returned to his vices and abandoned the idea of 
reform. He informed the cardinals that he wished to 
release Caesar from membership of their College, in 
order that he might be free to contract an exalted 
marriage and pursue his ambition; and it was then 
(December, 1497) that he brought about the shameless 
divorce of Lucrezia from Giovanni Sf orza. The Vatican 
chambers restuned their nightly gaiety. 

The Orsini and the Colonna now buried their ancient 
and deadly feud and imited with Naples, and the de- 
mand for a General Coimcil was ominously echoed in 
Germany and Spain. Alexander sought at first a 
counterpoise in Naples, and wished to marry Caesar and 
Lucrezia into the family of Alfonso. After some hesi- 
tation, and with marked reluctance, Alfonso II. gave 

26o Crises in the History of the Papacy 

his natural son Alfonso to Lucrezia, but he refused, in 
spite of the political advantage, to degrade his daughter 
Carlotta by a marriage with Caesar. It is not immate- 
rial to observe that Caesar had, like four other cardinals 
of the Church, contracted the "French disease" which 
was then so fiercely pimishing the vice of Italy, It 
happened that at that time Louis XII. sought a divorce, 
and, at first in the hope of bringing pressure on Naples, 
Caesar, after resigning the cardinalate on August 17th, 
was sent to gratify and impress the French Court. 
Even Giuliano della Rovere, who lived quietly at 
Avignon, was induced to enter the intrigue. Carlotta 
and her father still disdained the connexion, but Louis 
offered Caesar his yoimg and beautiful niece, Chariotte 
d'Albret, and the coimties of Valentinois and Diois. 
They were married on May 22d (1499), and the Papal 
policy entered upon a new phase. 

The Papacy and Venice, preferring their selfish in- 
terests to the welfare of Italy, allied themselves with 
France, and for the himdredth time an invading army 
descended upon the plains of Lombardy. Spain and 
Portugal were now angrily threatening to have the 
Pope — ^who, with equal warmth, accused Isabella her- 
self of imchastity — tried by a General Council for his 
scandalous actions, and he and Caesar formed the design 
of establishing, with the aid of the French, a strong 
principality for Caesar in central Italy. The Neapolitan 
alliance was discarded, and Bulls were issued to the 
effect that the Lords of Rimini, Pesaro, Imola, Faenza, 
ForK, Urbino, and Camerino had failed to discharge 
their feudal duties to the Papacy and had forfeited their 
fiefs. The victorious progress of Caesar in these terri- 
tories was checked for a time by a revolt at Milan, 
but that city was retaken by the French in 1500. The 

Alexander VI., the Borgia-Pope 261 

successful Jubilee of 1500, which at one time drew 
100,000 pilgrims to Rome, filled the coffers and helped 
to exalt the spirit of the Pope. His character, indeed, 
seemed to become more buoyant and defiant as his age 
advanced. During that year he had a narrow escape 
from death, owing to the fall of the roof of the Sala de' 
Pape, and Lucrezia's husband was cut to pieces in his 
chamber by the soldiers, and at the command, of 
Caesar. These events hardly dimmed the joy of the 
Pope. Caesar received the Golden Rose and was made 
Gonfaloniere of the Church; and he was permitted to 
appropriate a large share of the Jubilee funds and to 
exact large sums from the cardinals whom the Pope 
promoted in 1500. Meantime, the ambassadors relate, 
Giulia Orsini retained her influence over the seventy- 
year old Pope, and other favorite made a transient 
appearance at the Vatican. 

The next two years were employed in the establish- 
ment of Caesar's power in Romagna and the reduction 
of the Pope's personal enemies. Louis of France and 
Ferdinand of Spain drew up their famous, or infamous, 
scheme for the partition of Naples, and Alexander con- 
veniently discovered for them, and proclaimed in a 
Bull, that Federigo of Naples had, by an alliance with 
the Turks, become a traitor to Christendom. The 
fall of Naples involved the ruin of the Colonna, and 
they and the Savelli were condemned to lose their 
estates for rebellion against the Holy See. From part 
of these estates the Pope formed the duchy of Sermo- 
neta for Lucrezia's two-year-old son, Rodrigo, and the 
duchy of Nepi was bestowed on his own infant son 
Juan. Alexander next ttimed his attention to Ferrara, 
and, when Venice and Florence forbade him to attack 
it, he arranged a marriage of the widowed Lucrezia 

262 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

with the Duke's son Alfonso: overcoming the abhor- 
rence of the proud Este family by the influence of Louis 
XII. and by a grant to the Duke of all Church-dues in 
Ferrara for three years. From Ferrara, when it fell 
to his sister, Caesar would have a comparatively easy 
march on Bologna, if not Florence. 

So the year 1501 ended in such rejoicings as the for- 
time of the Borgia family inspired. At the date October 
II, 1 501, Burchard dispassionately notes in his diary 
that the Pope was imable to attend to his spiritual duties, 
but was not prevented from enjoying, in the Vatican, 
a "chestnut dance" and other performances of fifty 
nude courtesans whom Caesar introduced.' Lucrezia, 
whose purity some recent writers are eager to vindicate, 
was present with her father and brother. On Decem- 
ber 30th she was married. Alexander gave her the 
finest set of pearis in Europe and 100,000 ducats; and 
for a week Rome enjoyed such spectacles and bull-fights 
as had not been seen for years. Within the Vatican 
such comedies as the MencBchmi of Plautus were enacted 
before the Pope and his family and cardinals. Even 
tolerant Italy now broke into caustic criticisms, and 
Caesar replied vigorously by the daggers of his followers. 
The Pope genially urged him to let men talk. 

The last phase is, in its way, not less repulsive. By 
heartless treachery and brilliant fighting Caesar spread 
his sway over central Italy and Alexander watched and 

* Diarium, iii., 167. The details of this dance, which Burchard de- 
scribes, and of the orgy which followed, may not be translated. It is 
absurd to question Burchard's evidence on this matter; he was then 
Master of Ceremonies at the Papal Court and describes every move of 
the Pope. The Papal servants took part in the performance, and he 
could easily learn the details. The Florentine and other ambassadors 
speak of Caesar repeatedly introducing these women into the Vatican 
at night. 

Alexander VL, the Borgia-Pope 263 

spurred his progress. The Pope's attendants had to 
endure luiaccustomed fits of anger and abuse when his 
son did not advance rapidly enough. He treacherously 
arrested Cardinal Orsini; and the Cardinal's aged 
mother, who was ejected from her palace, had to send 
to the Pope (by Orsini's mistress) a magnificent pearl 
which Alexander coveted before she was allowed to 
provide her son with decent food. Cardinal Orsini 
died, and his property was confiscated. Cardinal 
Michiel died, and his fortime of 150,000 ducats was 
appropriated. The College of Cardinals trembled 
and the famous legend of the Borgia poison spread 
over Italy. ^ Nine new cardinals, mostly of unworthy 
character, were created and are said to have paid 
130,000 ducats for the dignity, and 64,000 ducats were 
raised by inventing new offices in the Curia. Alexander, 
although seventy-two years old, was in robust health, 
and looked forward to years of pleasure imder the pro- 
tection of his victorious son. And one night in the 
tmhealthy heat of August (the 5th or 6th) he and 
Caesar sat late at supper with Cardinal Adriano da 
Cometo. Romance has it that the poisoned wine 
they intended for their host was served to them: 
modem history is content with the known malaria of 
an autimm night. ' On August i8th Alexander died, 

* There is, as Pastor and Creighton admit, grave reason to think that 
Orsini and Michiel were poisoned, but charges of this kind are difficult 
to check, and certainly there is a good deal of romance in the Boi^ 
legend. The death-rate of cardinals tmder Alexander was not more 
than normal. See Baron Corvo's Chronicles of the House of Borgia 
(1901), and R. Sabatini's Life of Cesare Borgia (191 1). 

* The poison theory is not mentioned by Burchard or the chief am- 
bassadors, and is positively advanced only by Neapolitan or later 
writers. No historian seems now to entertain it. Alexander's illness, 
which lasted thirteen days, followed a course more consistent with 

264 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

and both Caesar and Cardinal Adriano were seriously 

Of other actions of Alexander his connexion with 
Savonarola alone demands some consideration, and it 
must be treated briefly. On July 25, 1495, Alexander, 
in friendly terms, summoned Savonarola to Rome to 
give an account of the prophetic gifts he claimed. 
Alexander was very tolerant of criticisms of his vices, 
except where they might provoke kings to stmimon a 
coimcil, and it is probable that he. wished to silence 
the politician rather than the preacher; Savonarola 
vigorously supported the idea of an alliance of Florence 
with France, which the Pope opposed. Savonarola 
evaded the simimons to Rome, and the Pope sus- 
pended him from preaching and endeavoured to destroy 
his authority by joining the San Marco convent to 
the Lombard Congregation. Savonarola defeated the 
Pope on the latter point, and on February 11, 1496, 
he rettimed to his pulpit, in defiance of the Pope's 
order and at the command of the Signoria of Florence. 
In explanation of his act he urged that Alexander's 
Brief was based on false information and invalid, and 
he denoimced Roman corruption more freely than ever. 
Alexander, in November, directed that a new congre- 
gation should be formed out of the Roman and Tuscan 
convents,* and when Savonarola and his monks again 
defeated the project, the Pope had recourse to secular 

A mind like that of the exalted and feverish preacher 

malaria, and the very rapid decomposition of his body, which seems tx) 
have impressed Lord Acton, is not inexplicable at that season. 

» Savonarola was head of the Tuscan Congr^ation of the Dominican 
Order, and these proposals — which were inspired by jealous collp''p:ues 
at Rome — aimed at putting him under a new and hostile jurisd on. 

Alexander VL, the Borgia-Pope 265 

was not likely to escape error and exaggeration in such 
ciraimstances, and his opponents in Florence made 
progress. Alexander now offered the coveted posses- 
sion of Pisa to the Signoria if they would desert Sa- 
vonarola and the idea of a French alliance. The monk 
was forbidden by the authorities to preach, and his 
defiance of the Signoria as well as the Papacy led to 
disorders of which the Pope took advantage to publish 
a sentence of excommimication (June 18, 1497). Alex- 
ander had meantime again listened to entreaties of 
delay and inquiry, but when he heard that the monk 
defied his anathema he said that the sentence must 
take its course. Up to this point the Pope had, in 
view of the very strong support which Savonarola had 
at Florence, proceeded with moderation, though we 
may resent the insincerity of his attack; it was not the 
prophecies, but the policy and the puritanism, of 
Savonarola which interested him. He complained bit- 
terly to the Florentine ambassadors of Savonarola's at- 
tacks on himself and the cardinals, and was, as always, 
alarmed by the monk's demand of a General Coimcil. 
However, the monk, not reahzing the progress made 
by his enemies, struck a louder note of defiance, and 
on the plea of the pubKc disorders to which he gave 
rise, he was arrested and put on trial. Alexander 
willingly granted the authorities a tithe on the ecclesi- 
astical property at Florence when they annoimced the 
arrest. The sensitive monk was, by torture, driven 
into some vague disavowal of his supernatural preten- 
sions, and he and two other friars were, on May 23, 
1498, hanged by the Florentine authorities as "heretics, 
schismatics, and contemners of the Holy See." The 
sent 'ce, however corruptly obtained, was technically 
just, since in the legislation of the time contumacious 

266 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

defiance of the Papaxjy implied heresy ; but the respec- 
tive positions of Savonarola and Alexander VI. in the 
history of religious progress are a sufficient monument 
to the bravery and inflexibility of the great Florentine 

There are few good deeds to be put in the scale 
against the crimes and vices of Alexander VT. He made 
a considerable, though futile, effort to rouse Christen- 
dom against the advancing Turks. He fortified Sant' 
Angelo, and engaged Pinturicchio to decorate the Vati- 
can apartments. He pressed the propagation of the 
faith in the New Worid, ordered the examination and 
authorization of printed books, endeavoured to check 
heresy in Bohemia, and vigorously defended the rights 
of the Church in the Netherlands. These things cannot 
alter our estimate of his character. He was a selfish 
voluptuary of — ^in view of his position — the most ignoble 
type; he countenanced and employed fraud, treachery, 
and crime; and the condition in which we shall soon 
find the Papacy will show that his policy had not the 
redeeming merit of effecting the security of the institu- 
tion over which he ignominiously presided. 



THE single merit which sober historians award to 
Alexander VI. is that, in forming a powerful 
principality for his son in central Italy, he was re-es- 
tablishing the States of the Church and ensuring the 
protection of the Papacy. The course of events after 
his death prevents us from acknowledging this claim, 
and Alexander himself must have been well aware that 
Caesar Borgia would, if his State endured, protect the 
Papacy only on condition that he might continue to 
dominate it. He told Machiavelli that he had made 
ample preparation to secure his position at the death 
of his father, but his own illness wrecked his plans. 
This is tmtrue. He was quite able to direct his servants 
and at his father's death they began to enforce his 
blustering policy. Some forced their way, at the point 
of the dagger, to the Papal treasury, and carried off the 
money and plate left by the Pope : leaving his enormous 
debts to his successor. Others sought to intimidate 
the cardinals. But Caesar's power in the North at once 
began to crumble, his enemies gathered in force from 
all sides, and he was defeated. The cardinals would not 
assemble imtil his troops, and those of France, Spain, 
and Venice, withdrew from Rome. 

The chief contest in the Conclave, which began on 


268 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

September i6th, lay between the French Cardinal 
D'Amboise and Giuliano della Rovere, who returned 
from Avignon. Neither could secure the necessary 
majority, and Cardinal Piccolomini, nephew of Pius II., 
was chosen to occupy the throne imtil a stronger man 
could prevail. The more luxurious cardinals may have 
smiled at the rejoicing with which reformers greeted 
the aged and virtuous Pius III., for they knew that he 
suffered from an incurable malady. He died, in fact, 
ten days after his coronation, or on October i8th, and 
the struggle was renewed. Giuliano della Rovere now 
pushed his ambition with equal energy and imscrupu- 
lousness. He promised Caesar Borgia, who controlled 
the extensive Spanish vote, that he would respect his 
possessions and make him Gonf aloniere of the Church ' ; 
he distributed money among the cardinal- voters ; he 
agreed to the capitulation that whoever was elected 
should siunmon a coimcil for the purpose of reform 
within two years, and should not make war on any Power 
without the consent of two thirds of the cardinals. He 
worked so well that the Conclave, which met on October 
31st, was one of the shortest in the history of the Pa- 
pacy. Within three hours the sealed window was broken 
open and the election of Julius II. was annotmced. 

We have in the last chapter followed the romantic 
early career of Giuliano della Rovere. He was bom 
on December 5, 1443, at Albizzola, near Savona, of a 
poor and obscure family. His uncle, being first a 
professor and then General of the Franciscan Order, 
sent him to be educated in one of the monasteries of that 
Order. Some historians strangely doubt whether he 
actually took the religious vows, but it was assuredly 
not the custom of the friars to keep yoimg men in their 

* Burchard, Diarium, iii., 293. 

Julius 11. : the Fighting Pope 269 

monasteries to the age of twenty-eight unless they were 
members of the fraternity. At that age (in 147 1) 
Fra Giuliano and his cousin Fra Pietro heard that their 
tmcle had become Sixtus IV., and they were raised to 
the cardinalate. 

Giuliano did not emulate the vices which carried 
off his yoimger cousin within two years. He "lived 
much as the other prelates of that day did," says 
Guicciardini, in a Sober estMpiate of his character, and 
his three known daughters confirm the great historian 
of the time; but he kept a comparatively moderate 
palace and spent money on a refined patronage of art 
and culture. He displayed some military talent when 
he commanded the Papal troops in Umbria in 1474, and 
afterwards served as Legate in France (1476) and the 
Netherlands (1480). He, as we saw, maintained his 
position after his tmcle's death by corruptly ensuring 
the election of Innocent VIII. and exercising a para- 
mount influence over that Pontiff. His power inflamed 
the animosity of his rivals, and at the accession of 
Alexander VI. he was driven from Italy. From his 
quiet retreat in Avignon he instigated the French mon- 
arch to invade Italy and depose Alexander, and, when 
Alexander gracefully disarmed Charles, Giuliano re- 
turned in disgust to Avignon. It is true that in 1499 
he rendered some service to Alexander, in connexion 
with Caesar's marriage, but he felt it safer to remain in 
Avignon imtil the announcement of Alexander's death 
recalled his many enemies to Rome.' 

' Guicdardini's Storia d* Italia and Burchard's Diarium are the chief 
authorities, supplemented by the dispatches of the Italian ambassadors. 
There is a slight and somewhat antiquated biography by M. A. J. 
Dumesnil (Histoire de Jules IL, 1873) and an abler study by M. 

270 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

In 1503, at the date of his election, Julius II. had 
long outlived his early irregularities, and had no per- 
sonal vices beyond a fiery temper and a taste for wine 
which his enemies magnified into a scandal. The famil- 
iar portrait by Raphael brings him closer to us than any 
of the Pontiffs whom we have yet considered. He was 
then in his sixtieth year, with a scanty sprinkling of grey 
locks on his massive head, and with an aspect of energy 
and determination which must have been lessened by 
the long white beard he grew in later life. Though 
troubled — like most of the Popes of this period — ^with 
gout, he was still erect and dignified, and the cardinals, 
who had hardly seen him for ten years, can have had 
little suspicion of the volcanic fires which were concealed 
by his habitual silence and quiet enjoyment of culture. 
They soon learned that they had created a master, and 
they lamented that he tmited the manners of a peasant 
with the vigour of a soldier. He consulted none, and 
he lavished epithets on those who lingered in the execu- 
tion of his commands. Yet this brusque and abusive 
soldier was destined, not merely to place the Papal 
States on a surer foundation than ever, but to do far 
more even than Leo X. for the artistic enhancement of 

The supreme aim which Julius held in view from the 

Brosch (Papst Julius II., 1878). J. F. Loughlin has a candid account, 
chiefly based on Brosch, of his early career in The American Catholic 
Quarterly Review, ' Special treatises will be noticed in the course of 
the chapter, but there is little dispute about the facts I give. Full 
references will be found in the very ample, if somewhat lenient, study 
of Dr. Pastor (vi.), and in the works of Creighton, Gregorovius, and 
von Reumont. 

' 1900, pp. 133-147- 

Julius 11. : the Fighting Pope 271 

beginning of his Pontificate was the restoration of the 
Papal possessions, but I may dismiss first the actions or 
events which have a more personal relation. He heard 
or said mass daily, and paid a strict regard to his ecclesi- 
astical duties. He reorganized the administration of 
the city and the Campagna, suppressed disorder, 
purified the tribtmals, reformed the coinage, and in 
many other respects corrected the vices of his prede- 
cessor, whom he had loathed. These maranas (half- 
converted Spanish Jews), as he called the Borgias, had 
fouled Italy with their presence. He inliproved the 
Papal table, which had been singularly poor tmder 
Alexander, but the vicious parasites whom Alexander 
had encouraged now shrank from the Vatican. At 
first he indulged the characteristic Papal weakness, 
nepotism. At his first Consistory (November 29, 1503) 
two of the four cardinals promoted were members 
of his family — ^his tmcle and nephew — and two years 
later he married his natural daughter Felicia to one of 
the Orsini, his niece Lucrezia to one of the Colonna, and 
his nephew Niccold della Rovere to Giulia Orsini *s 
daughter Laura. One cannot say, as some historians 
do, that he was no nepotist; though one may admit 
that, in the words of Guicciardini, ''he did not carry 
nepotism beyond due boimds." To the obligations 
he had contracted in bargaining for the Papacy he was 
quite tmscrupulously blind, and, although he issued a 
drastic Bull against simony in 1505 Qanuary 14th), his 
grand plans imposed on him such an expenditure that 
he even increased the sale of offices and indulgences 
imtil the annual income of the Papacy rose to 350,000 

Julius at once made it plain that he was not only 
determined to recover the Papal States, but would 



272 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

override any moral obligation or sentimental prejudice 
in the pursuit of his object. The treasury was empty, 
and he had contracted, at the price of several Spanish 
votes, to respect the person and possessions of Caesar 
Borgia. But Venice had encoiu^aged the petty lords 
of Romagna to recover the places which Caesar had 
wrested from them, and itself had designs on some of 
the towns. Grasping the pretext that the whole of 
Romagna was thus in danger, Julius summoned Caesar 
to surrender the remaining strongholds to the Church. 
When Caesar refused, he found himself a prisoner of the 
Pope, instead of Gonfaloniere of his troops, and he 
seems to have been dazed by the sudden collapse of his 
brilliant fortime. Spain withdrew the Spanish mer- 
cenaries from Caesar's service, Venice occupied Faenza 
and Rimini, and most of his towns cast off their en- 
forced allegiance. After a futile struggle with the 
Pope the fallen prince surrendered to Julius his three 
remaining towns— Cesena, Forli, and Bertinoro— and 
was allowed to retire to Naples. There, at the treach- 
erous instigation of the Pope, ' he was arrested and sent 
to Spain. He escaped from Spain two years afterwards, 
and died in 1507, fighting in a petty war on a foreign 

Venice, now at the height of her power and flushed 
with wealth and conquest, paid little heed when, in the 
winter of 1503-4, Julius made repeated demands for the 
restoration of the places she had seized in Romagna. 
She had, she said, not taken them from the Chiu^ch, and 
the Church would, if she restored them, hand them to 
some other "nephew." The Venetian ambassador at 
Rome seems to ha^^e miscalculated entirely the energy 

» Pastor (vi., 244) quotes from the Vatican archives a letter in which 
Julius urges the Spanish commander at Naples to arrest Caesar. 

Julius 11. : the Fighting Pope 273 

of the Pope, and Venice probably thought that her 
support of his candidature and his lack of troops and 
resources promised a profitable compromise; nor can we 
wonder if statesmen failed at times to see the justice 
of the Roman contention, that seizure by the sword was 
a legitimate title in princes who gave cities to the Church 
but wholly invalid in princes who took them from the 
Church. Venice offered to pay tribute for the towns 
which had been Papal fiefs. This Julius sharply refused, 
and he appealed to France, Spain, and the Emperor to 
assist him. Toward the close of the year (September 
22, 1504) Louis and Maximilian concluded an agree- 
ment at Blois to join Julius against Venice, but a quarrel 
destroyed the compact, and Julius had again to deal 
with Venice. The Venetians surrendered all but 
Paenza and Rimini, and Julius, with a protest that 
the retention of these towns was tmjustified, resumed 
amicable relations with them. 

The Pope's next move has won the admiration of 
many historians, though it has prompted so liberal a 
judge as Creighton to exclaim that "his cynical con- 
sciousness of political wrong-doing" is "as revolting as 
the frank tmscrupulousness of Alexander VT. " During 
the period of disintegration of the Papal States the 
Baglioni had mastered Perugia and the Bentivogli had 
taken possession of Bologna. Julius had at his acces- 
sion confirmed the position at Bologna, but in the spring 
of 1506 he resolved to recover both cities. France and 
Spain hesitated to lend their aid for this project, and 
on August 26th he impetuously ended the slow nego- 
tiations by sending a peremptory order to France to 
assist him and setting out at the head of his troops. 
With only five htmdred horse — ^though he had sent on 

« v., 28. 


274 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

an envoy to engage Swiss mercenaries — ^Julius and nine 
of his cardinals set out on the long march to Perugia. 
At Orvieto his anxiety foimd some relief. Giampaolo 
Baglione, realizing the force which the Pope would even- 
tually command, came to surrender Perugia, and at the 
beginning of September Julius sang a solemn mass in 
the Franciscan convent at Perugia which had once been 
his home. His energy was now fully aroused, in spite 
of the discouragement of the word sent by Louis XII. 
It is said that he already talked of leading his valiant 
troops against the Turks when he had settled the affairs 
of Italy. He crossed the hills, in bleak early- winter 
weather, in spite of gout, at the head of his 2500 men, 
and boldly sent on to Bentivoglio a sentence of excom- 
munication and interdict. Bentivoglio — more deeply 
moved by the approach of 4000 French soldiers — ^fled, 
and, again without striking a blow, the Pope entered 
Bologna in triiunph on November 1 1 th. ' After spend- 
ing five months in the reorganization of government he 
returned to Rome on March 28th (1507) and enjoyed a 
magnificent ovation. It may give a juster idea of his 
mental power to add that he had already (on April 
18, 1506) laid the first stone of the new St. Peter's 
designed on so vast a scale by Bramante. 

Three months after his return to Rome Julius had 
fresh and grave reason for anxiety. France and Spain 
had composed their differences, and in Jime of that year 
Ferdinand was to sail from Naples to meet the French 

' The date was fixed by the astrologers, but Burchard says that, in 
order to show his contempt for their science, Julius unceremoniously 
entered the town on the previous day. He acted more probably from 
sheer impatience. More than one event during his Pontificate, in- 
cluding his coronation on November 26, 1503, was arranged by the 

Julius 11. : the Fighting Pope 275 

King at Savona. Julius moved down to Ostia to greet 
him, and must have been profoimdly disturbed when the 
galley conveying Ferdinand and his young French wife 
passed the port without a word. He would hear that 
the two Kings held long and secret conferences at 
Savona, and that among the five cardinals with them 
was D'Amboise, Louis's chief minister, who still hun- 
gered for the tiara of which Julius had robbed him. 
There had for some time been bad news from France, 
Louis was reported as saying: "The Rovere are a peas- 
ant family ; nothing but the stick on his back will keep 
the Pope in order." Julius sent Cardinal Pallavicino 
to Savona, but he was not admitted to the cotmsels of 
the monarchs. It was rumoured that they meditated 
the reform of the Chtu-ch : which meant a cotmdl and 
an inquiry into the election of Julius II. 

Papal diplomacy, which, when Papal interests were 
endangered, never considered "Italian independence,** 
for a moment now dictated an alliance with the Emperor- 
elect, Maximilian, who had himself proposed to come to 
Rome for his coronation. There are vague indications 
that that dreamy monarch already entertained the idea 
of uniting the tiara with the imperial crown on his own 
head.' However that may be, Julius sent Cardinal 
Carvajal to dissuade him from coming to Rome, to 
bring about an alliance of the Christian Powers against 
the Turks (which would disarm Ferdinand and Louis 
as regards Julius), and to enter into a special alliance 
with France and Germany against Venice. The Papal 
envoy Aretini told the Venetian envoy that, when the 
danger to Italy from an alliance of Louis and Maximil- 

' See A. Schulte, Kaiser Maximilian I. als Kandidatfur den PapsUichen 
Stuhl (1906). The point is disputed. 

276 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

ian was pointed out, Julius exclaimed: "Perish the 
whole of Italy provided I get my way. " ' The proposal 
was, at all events, treacherous; for both Julius and 
Maximilian had treaties of peace with Venice. But 
the age of which Machiavelli has codified the guiding 
principles was insensible to considerations of political 
honesty. Maximilian attacked Venice and was de- 
feated, because she had the support of France. Then 
France was poisoned against the prosperous Republic, 
and the League of Cambrai was formed on December 
10, 1508: Maximilian, Louis, and Ferdinand entered 
into a secret alliance for the destruction of Venice, and 
the Pope, as well as the Kings of England and Htmgary, 
were invited to join in the act of brigandage. 

It is clear that Julius hesitated for some months to 
join the League; though his hesitation was probably 
due to some anxiety at the prospect of seeing the vic- 
torious armies of France and Germany in Italy once 
more. He tried to induce the Venetians to restore 
Faenza and Rimini to him and merit his protection. 
When they refused, he joined the League (March 23d) 
and put his spiritual censure on the Venetians. The 
campaign occupied only a few weeks, and the vast 
territory of the Republic was divided among the con- 
querors, the Pope receiving Ravenna and Cervia as well 
as Faenza and Rimini. But the ill fortime and anxiety 
of Venice promised him further gains if he would break 
faith with his allies and deal separately with the Repub- 
lic. To preserve the remnants of their territory the 
Venetians approached the Pope. At first he exacted 
formidable sacrifices, and, when they refused and im- 
portuned him, he went to his palace at Civita Vecchia 
to enjoy the rest, if not the pleasures, which Roman 

* Quoted by Brosch, p. 333. 

Julius 11. : the Fighting Pope 277 

gossip so darkly misrepresented. ' He perceived, how- 
ever, that the annihilation of Venice would endanger his 
own security, and in time he accepted the evacuation of 
Romagna and the abandonment of the Venetian exercise 
of authority over the clergy. 

Louis XII. learned with great indignation in the sum- 
mer of 1509 that Julius had not only withdrawn from 
the League of Cambrai, but was now endeavouring to 
form a league with Venice, Ferdinand, Maximilian, and 
Henry VIII. against himself. Henry and Maximilian 
refused to join, but Julius engaged fifteen thousand 
Swiss and added these to the Papal and Venetian troops. 
As the Duke of Ferrara was leagued with the French 
against Venice, and refused to follow the Pope's poUtical 
example, Julius issued against him an anathema which 
a writer of the time describes as making his hair stand 
on end, and resolved to add Ferrara to the growing 
Papal States. In August he set out once more, dressed 
in simple rochet, with the troops, and made the tiring 
march to Bologna. There his great plans nearly came 
to a premattu-e end. The Swiss failed him, and the 
French appeared in force before Bologna, where he lay 
seriously ill and greatly disedifying his attendants by the 
vehemence of his rage. No doubt his threats of suicide, 
which are recorded, were merely vague and rhetorical 
expressions of his despair. He saved himself, however, 
by a deceptive negotiation with the French commander 
imtil his reinforcements arrived, and, as his health 
recovered, his vigorous resolution became almost 
ferocious. The long white beard in Raphael's portrait 
of him reminds us how, at this time, he swore that he 
would not shave again tmtil he had driven the French 
from Italy. Louis was now taking practical steps 

' Priuli (Diario, ii., 102) says that Romans spoke of his "Ganymedes." 

278 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

toward the summoning of a General Coimcil, and the 
temper of the Pope was terrible to witness. In the 
depth of winter, not yet wholly recovered from his long 
fever, he rejoined the troops, sharing the hardships of 
camp-life and stormily scolding his generals for their 
slowness. He never led troops on the field, but he 
interfered in the placing of artillery and more than 
once exposed himself to fire. At the capitulation of 
Mirandola he shocked his cardinals by ordering that 
any foreign soldiers f oimd in the town should be put to 
the sword. 

He spent some months thus passing from town to 
town, infusing his fiery energy into the troops, but his 
successes and his personal conduct of the war inflamed 
the indignation of the French King. Louis not only 
sent reinforcements to his army, but he, with his ad- 
herent cardinals, arranged for the holding of a General 
Coimcil on Italian soil. Perdam Bdbylcmis Namen ("I 
will erase the very name of Babylon") was the terrible 
motto he now placed on his medals. In quick suc- 
cession the Pope learned that the Bentivogli had re- 
covered Bologna and derisively broken into fragments 
the magnificent statue of Julius which Michael Angelo 
had erected: that his favourite Cardinal Alidosi had 
been assassinated by his (the Pope's) nephew and com- 
mander the Duke of Urbino ; and that Louis and Max- 
imilian, with the seceded cardinals, had annoimceda 
General Council of the Church at Pisa and stimmoned 
Julius II. to appear before it. 

The attendants who marched by the Pope's closed 
litter, as he returned to Rome on Jime 26, 151 1, con- 
cluded from his unrestrained sobs and groans that his 
power, if not his life, approached its end. His health 
was ruined and his troops were scattered. But there 

Julius II.: the Fighting Pope 279 

was an energy mightier than that of Hildebrand in his 
worn frame, and with some improvement in his condi- 
tion he raised his head once more. He had in the spring 
created eight new cardinals, to replace the seceders, and 
he now announced that a real Ecumenical Council would 
assemble at the Lateran on April 19, 1512. That was 
his answer to Pisa, and to the Papal aspirations of the 
Cardinal of Rouen and the Emperor-elect. He again 
fell dangerously ill — so ill that his death was confidently 
expected. Election-intrigue filled the corridors of the 
Vatican, and a band of democrats held a meeting in 
the Capitol and decided, at his death, to restore the 
republican liberty of Rome. In a few weeks the terrible 
old man rose from his bed, thin and white but with 
unbroken energy, and scattered the intriguers. He 
anathematized the schismatical cardinals, and an- 
nounced (October 4th) that he had formed a Holy 
League with Ferdinand of Spain and Venice for the 
defence of the Church; Maximilian was presently 
induced to join the League, and before the end of 151 1 
Henry VTII. was persuaded, by a promise of assistance 
in his designs on France, to give it his adhesion. Only 
three months before Julius had apparently lain at the 
point of death, his new possessions utteriy ruined. Now 
he once more commanded the situation. The schis- 
matical Coimdl of Pisa, which opened on November 
1st, turned out a pimy French conciliabulum, with four- 
teen bishops and five abbots to represent the universal 

The campaign which began in January need not be 
followed in detail. After a series of varjdng engage- 
ments the French won a crushing victory at Ravenna, 
and there was panic at Rome. The cardinals demanded 
peace with France, but Giulio de* Medici, cousin of 

28o Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Cardinal Giovanni, who had been captured by the 
French, now came to describe the exhausted condition of 
the French army, and Julius resolved to prosecute the 
war. He opened his General Coimcil at the Lateran 
on May 3rd, and had at least the satisfaction of seeing 
seventy Italian bishops respond to his simimons. 
Then, covering his preparations by a pretence of con- 
sidering the terms which Louis XII. offered him, he 
engaged further troops, fired his commanders, and 
induced Maximilian to withdraw the four thousand 
Tirolese mercenaries from the French ranks. In a few 
weeks the French were driven out of Italy, the schis- 
matics were forced to transfer their discredited Coimcil 
to French soil, and the Pope foimd himself master of 
Bologna, Ravenna, Rimini, Cesena, Parma, Piacenza, 
and Reggio. In appraising Julius as founder of the 
Papal States one must bear in mind the history of 
this remarkable period. In October, 151 1, Julius was 
stricken and apparently ruined; by the summer of 
1512 he was master of the richest provinces of Italy. 
But he had not left Rome, and his personal action at this 
jimcture was sUght in comparison with those tremen- 
dous earlier exertions which had ended in disastrous 

Julius was far from satisfied, and his conduct in the 
hour of victory was at the low political level of the time. 
He assisted the Medici to impose themselves again on 
Florence, and the Sforza to recover Milan. He then 
made a lamentable effort to secure Ferrara. The Duke 
came to Rome, imder a safe-conduct of the Papal 
General Fabrizio Colonna, and of the Spanish ambas- 
sador, to plead that he had acted only in honourable 
discharge of his engagements to France. Julius had 
approved the safe-conduct, but when the Duke re- 

Julius II.: the Fighting Pope 281 

fused to surrender his territory to the Church, the 
Pope affected to discover that he had committed crimes 
not covered by the safe-conduct and detained him. 
The Colonna redeemed the credit of Italy by cutting 
their way through the Papal guards and restoring 
Alfonso, after romantic adventures, to his duchy. 
When the poet Ariosto was afterwards sent by Alfonso 
to make peace with the Pope, he had to fly for his life ; 
Julius, in one of his now frequent outbursts of violence, 
threatened to have him thrown into the sea. 

To the end Julius pursued his tortuous diplomacy. 
Neither Spain nor Germany wished to see any increase of 
his power, and he was forced to abandon his designs on 
Ferrara. He then disrupted his Holy League, and made 
a fresh alliance with Maximilian against Venice and to 
the disadvantage of Spain. Julius was concerned about 
the growing power of Spain in Italy ; and we shall hardly 
be unjust if we suspect that, as Alexander VI. had done, 
he dreamed of adding Naples to the Papal dominion. 
But he never entirely recovered his health, and his 
great schemes were closed by death on February 20, 
1 5 13. He was neither a great soldier nor a great states- 
man. There is no indication that his interference in 
the military operations was useful, and, as I pointed out, 
the one permanently successful campaign was fought 
while he directed an ecclesiastical Coimcil at Rome. In 
the sphere of politics and diplomacy he relied on cimning 
and deceit rather than statesmanship, and, if he had 
not represented a spiritual power to which the nations 
were botmd to return in the end, he would have been 
mercilessly crushed. He had, also, little ability to 
organize such possessions as he obtained, and his career 
is marred by violent outbxirsts and acts of treachery and 
cruelty. It is sometimes said that he was the greatest 

282 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Pope since Innocent III. One imagines the shade of 
that great spiritual ruler shuddering; and one is dis- 
posed to agree with Guicciardini that, if Julius was 
great, a new meaning must be put on the word. He 
had wonderful energy, and by good fortune his aim was 
finally attained. 

In view of this strenuous campaign for the recovery of 
the Papal States, we can expect only a slender record 
of strictly Pontifical work. Julius attended to the 
propagation of the faith in the new lands beyond 
the seas, and he impelled the Inquisitors to check the 
spread of heresy. That he restrained the Spanish 
Inquisition, and supported its exclusion from Naples, 
was not due to himiane feeling, but to its exorbitant 
claims of independent authority. He forbade duelling, 
and endowed a college of singing for the maintenance 
of the Papal Choir. His Lateran Council was, of course, 
a political expedient, but there is evidence that when 
death closed his career Julius was turning more seriously 
to plans of reform. In spite of his own Bull against 
simony, the Curia remained as corrupt as ever, and 
money was raised in all the evil ways known to it. 
It is, however, curious and creditable to have to place 
one great reform to the merit of Julius. He passed so 
drastic a decree against corruption at Papal elections 
that the rivals who gathered in Rome after his death 
did not dare to employ bribery. 

Julius is probably most deserving of esteem for his 
artistic work. The literary parasites who swarmed 
about his successor have associated the glory of late 
mediaeval Rome with the name of Leo X., but discrim- 
inating research is convincing historians that Leo did 
not even sustain the great work of his predecessor. 
The bold scheme which Julius adopted was due to his 

Julius IL: the Fighting Pope 283 

artists rather than to his own inspiration, yet he has the 
distinction— no mean distinction for one immersed, as 
he was, in an exacting policy — of reflecting at once the 
vast ideas which were put before him. The new St. 
Peter's which he was compelled to think of building was 
not intended at first to be of great dimensions, but he 
accepted Bramante's design of a church far larger even 
than the St. Peter's of today, and, in spite of his costly 
wars, he enabled the architect to employ 2500 workers. 
He accepted Bramante's designs for a new Vatican and 
for the Cortile di Damaso. He engaged Michael Angelo 
to carve a princely marble tomb for himself — ^his one great 
luxury — and, when his interest was transferred to the less 
selfish task of building St. Peter's, he set the artist to 
the execution of his immortal work on the roof of the 
Sistine Chapel. Michael Angelo made also, as I have 
noted, a great statue of Julius at Bologna, but this was 
destroyed at the return of the Bentivogli. There were 
many quarrels between the two men, but Michael 
Angelo fotmd in Julius a manliness and a greatness of 
conception, if not a feeling for art, the lack of which he 
bitterly criticized in Leo X. 

Cristoforo Romano, Sansovino, Perugino, Signorelli, 
Pinturicchio, and other great artists were enlisted in the 
work of making the ecclesiastical quarter of Rome the 
artistic centre of the world. Some of the finest of the 
old Greek sculptures which were then being sought in 
the rubbish of mediaeval Italy were bought for the Bel- 
videre, and painters of distinction were richly encour- 
aged. New frescoes and new tombs were ordered in the 
churches of Rome; the walls and aqueducts were 
repaired ; handsome new streets were laid out ; and the 
cardinals and wealthier citizens were moved to co- 
operate with the Pontiff in his plans for the exaltation of 

284 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Rome, We may deplore that the money for these 
plans was largely obtained by the sale of spiritual offices 
and indulgences, and we must resent the fact that 
money obtained by these means was diverted to the 
purposes of war. But the magnificence of the design 
and the generosity with which Julius prosecuted it as 
long as he lived seem to be a more solid and en- 
during merit than his good f ortime — for in the decisive 
stage it was little more — ^in recovering a rich dominion 
which would but serve to enhance the frivolity of his 



WHEN JuKtis II. made his last survey of the world 
in which he had played so vigorous a part, he 
must have concluded that he had placed the Papacy on 
a foundation more solid than any that had yet supported 
it. The Conciliar movement, its most threatening 
enemy in the mind of the Popes, had been discredited 
by the failure of its latest effort and by the naked 
ambitions of those who supported it. The princes of 
the worid had proved less stubborn than in the days of 
the early Emperors, and the Papacy had now a broad 
and strong base of secular power. The new culture had 
been, to a great extent, wooed and won by the Pope's 
princely patronage of art and embellishment of Rome; 
and the Inquisition, in one form or other, could silence 
the intractable. There was still, among the dour and 
distant northeners, much cavilling at the avarice and 
luxury of Rome, but, if the succeeding Popes used the 
Lateran Cotmcil to ensure some measure of reform, it 
would diminish; it had, in any case, not yet proved 
dangerous. Neither Julius nor any other had the least 
suspicion that the Papacy was within five years of the 
beginning of an appalling catastrophe. 

We have, however, seen that the opinions which were 

to bring about that catastrophe had long been diffused 


286 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

in Europe, and a particular conjunction of circum- 
stances might at any time convert them into rebellious 
action. For more than a century, there had been a 
critical scrutiny of the bases of Papal power, and to a 
large extent the Papacy had escaped the consequences 
by a greater liberality toward rulers and by sharing 
with them the wealth it extracted from the people. 
France maintained the Pragmatic Sanction, which 
Rome detested, and other coimtries gave rather the 
impression of federation than of abject submission to a 
spiritual autocracy. Moreover, while the pressure of 
the central power was eased, doctrinal rebellion seemed 
to make little progress. LoUardism was extinct, Hus- 
sitism confined to a sect, Savonarolism murdered. Yet 
the Reformation was coming, and we see now that 
Luther was but the instrument of its deliverance. 

It is impossible here to discuss all the causes of the 
Reformation, and a few considerations will suffice for 
my purpose. Printing had been invented and printed 
sheets were being circulated. Men were now reading — 
which provokes independent reflection — rather than 
sitting at the feet of oracular schoolmen. Among the 
books which poured out from the press, moreover, the 
Bible — ^in spite of a popular fallacy on that subject — 
occupied an important place, even in the vernacular. 
Further — and this was most important of all — the last 
great extension of the Papal fiscal system, the granting 
of indulgences for money, was in one important respect 
based on a novel speculation of the schoolmen and 
was not supported by Biblical Christianity. The 
realization of this stimulated men to get fc' hind the 
fences of Decretals and scholastic speculations, and to 
/claim a reform which should be something more than 
/ the substitution of a good Pope for a bad Pope. Finally 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 287 

the renewed corruption of the Papal Court under Leo 
X. set this psychological machinery in conscious 

Twenty-five cardinals were enclosed in the Sistine 
Chapel on March 4th for the election of the new Pope. 
Wealth was now of no direct avail, for all accepted the 
Bull of Julius condemning bribery. Some of the poorer 
cardinals, knowing that their votes were not n^^ketable, 
had tried to secure the treasure (about 300,000 ducats) 
left by Julius, but the keeper of Sant' Angelo had been 
incorruptible. Yet we must not emphasize the absence 
of bribery: there is such a thing as gratitude for favours 
to come. For nearly a week the enclosed cardinals dis- 
cussed and negotiated. It is confidently stated that, 
while the older cardinals were, as usual, divided in al- 
legiance to several of their body, the younger cardinals 
stood aloof and were secretly resolved to elect Giovanni 
de' Medici. Cardinal Giovanni lay abed in his little 
cell — ^imagine the Sistine Chapel containing thirty-one 
bedrooms — suffering from fistula. A surgeon was with 
him in the Conclave, and his condition was tmpleasantly 
felt in the sealed room. A close friend of his, Bernardo 
Dovizo, or Bibbiena as he was commonly called, can- 
vassed for him, and assured the cardinals of his liberal 
and grateful disposition, his high origin, and his peaceful 
intentions. He was only thirty-seven years of age, but 
the older cardinals may have concluded that his malady 
compensated for his youth. At the first scrutiny, on 
March loth, he was elected, and he took the name of 
Leo X. 

The ea ^ier life of Leo X. has been told in the previous ^y 
chapters. The second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, 
bom on December 11, 1475, he was thrust into the 
ranks of the clergy at the age of seven, he received the 

288 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

title of cardinal at the age of fourteen, and he was openly 
admitted to the Sacred College two years later. He had 
received a stimulating education from the Humanist 
scholars of Florence, and amidst the dissipations of 
Rome he remained a sober and diligent scholar. He 
retired to Florence tmder Alexander VI., and, when his 
family were driven from power and repeatedly failed 
to recover it, he travelled in Germany, the Netherlands, 
and France. Under Julius II., he foimd some favour 
and became Legate for Bologna and Romagna. He was 
captured by the French at the fatal battle of Ravenna, 
but he made his escape on their retreat from Italy, 
and soon afterwards became the chief representative 
of his house on their restoration to Florence. His 
public record was, therefore, slight, and his time had 
been mainly devoted to the cultivation of letters and the 
enjoyment of art, especially music. His interests were 
so well known that on one of the tritunphal arches 
erected for his coronation it was boldly annotmced that 
Venus (Alexander) and Mars (Julius) had now made 
way for Minerva; which a more discerning neighbour 
had modified by erecting an assurance that Venus lived 
for ever. It was, and is, believed that his life before he 
became Pope was free from irregularity. In spite of 
three fasts a week and a strenuous devotion to the chase, 
he was an abnormally fat man, and his pale, puffy face 
was not improved by his large myopic eyes, which saw 
little without the aid of a glass. But his imfailing 
smile, his charming manners, his ready wit, his prodigal 
generosity, and his unalterable love of peace and sun- 
shine promised a genial contrast to the reign of his 
predecessor, and Rome gave him a princely welcome. 

There are three chief aspects of the Pontificate of 
Leo X. which it is material to consider, and, although 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 289 

it is difficult entirely to separate them, it is convenient 
to attempt this. There is his political — or more cor- 
rectly his diplomatic — action, which, though, in that 
Machiavellian age, it seemed only a degree worse than 
was customary, impresses the modem mind as almost 
revolting in its studied duplicity. There is his personal 
life, which inspired the reformers with volumes of vi- 
tuperation, while modern writers seem able to regard 
it without much sentiment. And there is the Pontifical 
activity which culminates in the struggle with Luther. 
His relation to mediaeval art is less important than 
is commonly supposed. 

Mediaeval Italy was no place for a prince of peace, and 
Leo soon fotmd that, if he were to avoid the sword, he 
must follow a crooked course. He sincerely loathed the 
clash of swords. He loved jewels and music and 
comedies and books; he wanted to spend the Papal 
treasury in surrounding himself with pretty things and 
flashes of wit — and he thus spent the whole of Julius's 
300,000 ducats in two years. But France and Venice 
thirsted for revenge and sought his support ; while the 
envoys of Milan, Spain, England, and the Empire 
claimed his blessing, and his ducats, for the opposite 
side. While, however, in the actual condition of Italy, 
the Papal States were safe, a victory of France and 
Venice wotdd bring perils. Leo secretly joined the 
Holy League against France, and secretly paid for the 
service of 45,000 Swiss mercenaries. The policy turned 
out well. France was driven back, and the leaders of 
the schismatical cardinals, Carvajal and Sanseverino, 
came to Rome, and humbly accepted Leo's obedience. 
France repudiated the schism, and Venice, after a 
desultory struggle, was pacified. 

Leo foimd some time for domestic matters, of which 


290 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

two may be noted here. On September 23d (1513) he 
created four cardinals, of whom three were relatives and 
one a literary friend. Bernardo Bibbiena (or Dovizo) 
had, as I said, promoted his interest in the Conclave, 
and at earlier times, and was an accomplished literary 
man; he was also entirely devoid of moral sentiment, 
composed the most indecent comedy that was enacted 
at the Vatican, and was a genius at organizing festivities. 
Innocenzo Cib6, son of Innocent VIII.'s natural son 
Franceschetto and Leo's sister Maddalena, was a youth 
who seemed eager to emulate the scandalous repute of 
his father. Giulio de* Medici, cousin of the Pope, had 
already received a Papal dispensation from illegitimacy, 
and the quiet and delicate youth was advanced a little 
nearer to the Papacy. Lorenzo Pucci, lastly, was quite 
a distinguished canonist, and a relative of Leo; he was 
also expert in pushing the sale of indulgences and very 
solicitous about his own commission. 

Leo then regarded the fortunes of the chief lay 
members of his family. His brother Giuliano, a highly 
cultivated man of thirty-four, was too much softened by 
vice and indulgence to carry out the Medici policy at 
Florence. This policy, embodied in a paper of instruc- 
tions which there is good reason to ascribe to Leo 
himself, was entrusted to the Pope's nephew Lorenzo, 
a vigorous yoimg sportsman. Giuliano was made a 
Baron of Rome and commander of the Papal army — 
Leo remarking that he trusted there would be no de- 
mand upon his military talent — and it was so confidently 
rumoured that the Pope proposed to make him King of 
Naples that Ferdinand was alarmed and had to be 
reassured. It is still disputed whether Leo really had 
this intention, or whether he merely proposed to make a 
small principality in central Italy for his worthless 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 291 

brother ; nor, in view of the secrecy and duplicity of the 
Pope's methods, is the point ever likely to be settled 
on a documentary basis. It seems consistent both with 
the course of events and with Leo's character to sup- 
pose that he kept both alternatives in mind, but that 
nepotism was not the first principle of his policy : his 
fundamental idea was the maintenance of his own 
luxurious security. ^ 

In this pleasant promotion of his friends and relatives 
and their innumerable followers, in the prodigal encour- 
agement of the artists, musicians, poets, and jewellers 
who flocked to Rome from all parts, Leo spent two 
years which were only slightly clouded by the rapid 
exhaustion of the Papal treasury. Meantime, however, 
the political situation had once more claimed his impa- 
tient attention, and we may for the moment confine 
ourselves to that interesting aspect of his work. Louis, 
disgusted with the Papacy, approached Ferdinand of 
Spain and was prepared to abandon to him his claims 
on Milan, Genoa, and Naples. This prospect of the 
enclosure of Papal territory in a Spanish vice threw the 

' P. Nitti, Leo X.ela sua politica (1892), seeks to defend Leo against 
the charge of excessive nepotism. He strains the evidence at times, and 
qtiite admits that duplicity was the essential feature of the Pope's policy. 
See also his DocumerUi ed osservationi riguardarUi la politica di Leone X, 
(1893). A biography of Leo was written by the contemporary Bishop 
of Nocera, Paolo Giovio, but this Vita Leonis X, is the work of a courtier. 
Guicdardini (Storia d* Italia), Sanuto (Diarii), and Bembo (Opere) are 
more critical, and the letters of the Roman ambassadors are valuable. 
P. de Grassis, Master of Ceremonies at the Papal Court under Julius and 
Leo, wrote a Diary of Leo X., but there seems to be some reluctance to 
publish it. The work published by Armellini (// diario di Leone X,, 1884) 
is merely a discreet compendium of it. Fabroni's Leonis X, Vita is too 
ancient (1797), and The Medici Popes (i9o8)by H. M. Vaughan, is an 
excellent popular work. Roscoe's stately Life and Pontificate of Leo X, 
(1805) is too flattering to its hero and is discredited in places by more 
recent research. 

292 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Pope into a fit of diplomatic activity. He secretly ne- 
gotiated with Venice and Florence and Ferrara, and 
sent a legate to England to help to reconcile Henry 
VIII. with Lotiis. He trusted to induce these Powers 
to form a league with him for the purpose of driving the 
Spaniards out of Italy, and aimed at securing Naples for 
his brother.' In October the French King married 
Mary Tudor, and the Spanish spectre was laid. But, 
with the imvarying logic of Papal politics, the fear of 
Spain was succeeded by a fear of France, and the Pope 
had recourse to the kind of diplomacy which is char- 
acteristic of him, and in which, we are assured, he 
took great pleasure. He made a secret treaty with 
Spain for the defence of Italy, and a secret treaty of 
alliance with Louis against Spain. ^ He encouraged 
Louis, who held out to him the prospect of Naples, to 
attack Italy, and secretly promised to assist Milan 
and the Emperor against the French if Louis did attack 
\ Italy, which he thought improbable. He thus, he 
thought, secured a principality for Giuliano, whichever 
side won. "When you have made a league with one 
man," he used to say, ** there is no reason why you 
should cease to negotiate with his opponent. " 

This policy, it is recorded, cost Leo sleepless nights, 
though not on accoimt of moral scruples. Louis pressed 
him for a definite alliance against Milan, and he tried to 
evade it by pleading that it was not meet for Christian 
princes to engage in warfare while the Turk threatened 
Europe. The death of Louis in January (15 15) made 
matters worse, as his successor, Francis L, determined 
with all the vigour and ambition of youth to press the 

« Sanuto, Diarii, xviii. 

' Gtiicciardini, xii. There is a copy of his Spanish treaty in the State 
archives at Florence. 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 293 

French claims. Leo kept a legate negotiating with 
Francis, and we learn from the Legate's letters that he 
offered an alliance on condition that Naples should be 
surrendered to GiuUano. In the meantime (February 
1st), he secretly approved of the league of Germany, 
Spain, Switzerland, Milan, and Genoa against France, 
and stipulated that he should have Parma, Piacenza, 
Modena, and Reggio; he would pay 60,000 ducats a 
month to the league, and would induce Henry VIII. — 
partly by making Wolsey a cardinal — to join it. In 
July he secretly signed the league, yet continued his 
deceptive correspondence with France. We have still 
the doctunent in which Leo, after joining the league, 
offered an alliance to Francis on condition that he re- 
nounced his claim to Parma and Piacenza, made peace 
with Spain with a view to meeting the Turks, and sur- 
rendered his claim to Naples ''in favour of the Holy 
See or of a third person approved by the Holy See."^ 
During the campaign which followed, Leo wavered 
according to the news he received. When the French 
took Milan, he made peace with them; they were to 
respect the position of the Medici at Florence, and Leo 
was to renoimce the Papal claim to Parma and Pia- 
cenza. He had, however, a more creditable object 
in view than the interest of his family. He met 
Francis at Bologna, and there can be no doubt that 
they then agreed to substitute a Concordat for the 

' The instruction is reproduced by Nitti, p. 6i. As the document 
adds that Leo will not allow any prince, "even were it his own-brother, " 
to hold "both the head and the tail of Italy" (Milan and Naples), Nitti 
and Pastor claim that it shows that nepotism was not the key-note of 
Leo's policy. It seems strange that, in view of all his admitted duplicity, 
they can take seriously this phrase of the Pope's. We may admit, 
however, that the security of the Papal States was the Pope's first 

294 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Pragmatic Sanction of 1438. For the promise of a tithe 
on his clergy, Francis surrendered their Gallican priv- 
ileges, and became, as he thought, the real ally of the 
Pope. Leo ordered the Swiss to refrain from attacking 
the French in Milan, and listened approvingly to the 
King's designs on Naples. Within three months, how- 
ever, the Emperor Maximilian led a body of Swiss 
troops, in the pay of Henry VIII., to an attack on Milan, 
and Leo was siunmoned by Francis to dispatch troops 
in accordance with their agreement. Carefully retard- 
ing the levy of his troops so that they should not arrive 
in time, and keeping a legate by the side of Maximilian, 
Leo awaited the result. The expedition failed, and he 
sought favour with the exasperated Francis by revealing 
to him that Henry VIII. had secretly paid the Swiss, 
and by sending once more an insincere command that 
the Swiss must not dare to attack an ally of the Papacy. 
He sought to retain the favour of Maximilian by remind- 
ing him that he had sent him two hundred Papal horse 
under Mark Antonio Colonna; and to Francis he pro- 
tested that Colonna had acted without permission. 
He then assured Francis that he had sent a legate to 
induce Maximilian to make peace with France, and he 
gave secret instructions to the legate that such a peace 
would not be to the interest of the Papacy. 

This is the admitted framework of that diplomacy 
which Roscoe contrives to dress in such opulent phrases, 
and it was a policy that Leo never altered. His next 
step was to seize the duchy of Urbino for his nephew 
Lorenzo: a step which, after all his apologies. Dr. 
Pastor admits to have *' something repulsive about it." 
The Duke of Urbino (nephew of Julius II.) had, in spite 
of his feudal obligations, refused to attack the French 
at the command of the Pope, and seems to have dis- 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 295 

cussed with Francis the dupKcity of the Pope's pro- 
cedure. Yet his liberality to the Medici in the dajrs 
of misfortune had been such that Giuliano earnestly 
joined with Francis I. in imploring Leo to overlook his 
conduct, Leo harshly refused, and, to the disgust of 
many, the duchy was subdued and given to Lorenzo. 
I may conclude this matter by recoimting that in 15 17 
the exiled Duke recovered his territory, and the long 
struggle for his ejection cost the Papal treasury, accord- 
ing to Guicciardini, 800,000 ducats. 

A fresh anxiety clouded the Pope's pleasures when he 
heard that France, Spain, Germany, and Switzeriand 
had formed an alliance, and that Francis I. and Charles 
V. (who succeeded Ferdinand on January 23d) were 
virtually to divide northern and central Italy between 
them. This project was abandoned, but in the follow- 
ing year an even more serious event alarmed the Pope. 
The yotmger cardinals who had pressed his election were 
generally aggrieved. Fast and luxiuious as most of 
them were, they had expected a larger pecimiary grati- 
tude on Leo's part, and they observed with annoyance 
that his relatives and his literary admirers secured the 
greater part of his lavish gifts. In 15 17, one of these 
worldly young cardinals, Petrucci, conceived a particu- 
lar animosity against Leo, on accoimt of some injustice 
done to his brother, and there is little room for doubt 
that he spoke and thought of having the Pope assassin- 
ated. Whether or no we tnist the romantic story told 
by Guicciardini and Giovio, that the surgeon who at- 
tended the Pope was to poison his wound, we can hardly 
accept the opposite rumour, that the whole conspiracy 
was invented by the Pope or his brother in order to 
secure money. Petrucci was not offered the option of 
a fine; and Cardinals Riario and Sauli confessed that 

296 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

they knew of the plot. After a dramatic period of 
inquiry and incrimination Petrucci was, in spite of the 
protests of cardinals and ambassadors, strangled in his 
prison, and the flesh of his guilty servants was torn 
from their bones with red-hot pincers. Cardinal 
Riario paid 150,000 ducats for his release, and the less 
wealthy Cardinal Sauli 25,000. Cardinals Soderini 
and Castellesi fled, when they were impeached, and 
their property and that of Cardinal Petrucci was 

These events caused the gravest scandal throughout 
Christendom. Cardinal Riario was the Dean of the 
Sacred College, and many preferred to think that the 
plot was an invention for the purpose of securing fimds 
rather than that the cardinals had sunk so low. The 
dilemma was painful, but we can have little doubt that 
Leo, at least, was convinced of the reality of the plot. 
Instead of proceeding with greater caution, however, 
he went on to give a fresh groimd of criticism. In a 
Consistory which he held on Jime 26th, he told the 
cardinals that he was going to add no less than twenty- 
seven members to their college. Their stormy protests 
increased his determination, and on July ist he pro- 
moted thirty-one cardinals. The rtmiour at once 
spread through Christendom, and is in substance 
imdoubted, that most of the new cardinals paid large 
stuns of money for the dignity; Sanuto makes individ- 
ual payments rise as high as 30,000 ducats. Some of 
them were men of low character, and others were either 
related to, or had lent money to, the Pope. 

We may, however, conclude the political considera- 
tion before we discuss these domestic matters. Max- 
imilian induced the Diet of Augsburg to elect his 
grandson Charles as his successor to the imperial title, 


Leo X. and the Dance of Death 297 

and, as a Bull of Julius II. enacted that the investiture 
of the kingdom of Naples reverted to the Papacy if its 
holder became King of Rome, the Pope was pressed to 
give a dispensation from this Bull. Leo pleaded that 
his "honour" was at stake; but he secretly negotiated 
with Francis (who bitterly opposed the dispensation) 
and with Charles, and bargained shamelessly for his 
refusal or consent. In the end Francis (out of fimds 
raised in the name of a cnisade) gave Lorenzo de* 
Medici 100,000 ducats "for services rendered," and 
promised a further simi of 100,000 to the Pope. It is 
an equally imdisputed fact that on January 20, 15 19, 
Leo, Lorenzo, and Francis entered into an alliance ; the 
Pope and his nephew were to promote the interests of 
Francis, and the French King was to protect the Papal 
States and the estates of the Medici family, and to ad- 
mit the claims of the Church at Milan. It is, perhaps, 
the choicest example of Leo's diplomacy — " imparalleled 
double-dealing," Dr. Pastor calls it — that he secretly 
drew up a similar treaty with Spain and signed it a fort- 
night after he had signed the preceding (February 6th). 
In the meantime Leo heard that Maximilian had died 
on January 12th, and he confronted, or evaded, the 
situation in his distinctive way. He informed his 
German legate that Charles was already too powerful, 
and that either Frederic of Saxony (whom he wished 
to induce to surrender Luther) or Joachim of Branden- 
burg (a docile noble) ought to have the imperial title. 
Hearing, however, that these candidates had no pro- 
spect, he adopted Francis L and urged him to defeat 
Charles. His policy at this stage is not wholly clear, 
and it is possible that at first he pitted Francis against 
Charles in the hope of making profit from one or the 
other. In time he seems seriotisly to have adopted 

298 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Francis. He, on March 12th, offered the red hat to the 
Electors of Treves and Cologne, and proposed (on the 
14th) to make the Archbishop of Mayence (a disreput- 
able prelate) permanent legate for Germany; and he 
then, on May 4th, issued a Brief to the effect that if 
three Electors agreed in their choice the election shotild 
be valid. His schemes were shaken for a moment by 
the premature death of Lorenzo, which moved him, in a 
nervous hour, to exclaim that henceforward he be- 
longed, "not to the house of Medici, but to the house of 
God. " But his associates were not kept long in sus- 
pense. He attempted to incorporate Urbino in the 
Papal States, and, when Francis objected that Urbino 
belonged to Lorenzo's surviving child (and her French 
mother), the Pope began to abandon France. He was 
just in time to approve Charles and promise a dispensa- 
tion in regard to Naples before that prince was elected 
to be Emperor. 

But the consciousness of his long opposition to 
Charles weighed upon him, and in September he again 
made a secret treaty with Francis L; he would refuse 
the crown of Naples to Charles and would promote 
French interests by secular and spiritual weapons in 
return for the French King's aid against Charles and 
against "insubordinate vassals." Vassals of Leo X. 
cannot easily have kept pace with the remarkable 
policy of their feudal lord, but we are hardly reconciled 
to the Pope's mingled greed and nepotism. He secured 
Perugia and some of the smaller places in Ancona and 
Umbria, and made an unsuccessful attempt to get 
Ferrara. During all this time, he listened amiably to 
German proposals for an alliance, and in the first months 
of 1 52 1 he again duped the two monarchs. In January 
— and it was repeated in March and April — ^he gave the 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 299 

representatives of Charles a written assurance that he 
had no engagements to the disadvantage of that mon- 
arch and would not incur any within three months; 
in the same month Qanuary) he agreed to secure for 
Francis, for the purpose of an attack on Naples, a free 
passage through the Swiss lines, and to receive in 
return Ferrara and a strip of Neapolitan territory. 

By this time, however, the shadow of Luther had, 
fallen on the Papal Court. The magnitude of the 
danger in Germany was hy no means appreciated, but 
Leo was eager to get Luther to Rome and must con- 
ciliate the Emperor. In May, hearing that the French 
were approaching the Swiss and the Duke of Ferrara, 
he formed an alliance with Charles and prepared to use 
all his forces to drive his former ally out of Italy. The 
campaign opened successfully, but Leo did not live to 
see the issue and profit by it. He caught a chill as he 
sat at an open window in November watching the 
popular rejoicing, and died on December ist, at the age 
of forty-two. Both the leading authorities, Giovio 
and Guicciardini, accept the current belief that either 
the Duke of Ferrara or the late Duke of Urbino had 
had him poisoned, but it is now generally recognized 
that the recorded symptoms of his seven days' illness 
point rather to malaria. 

This admitted career of duplicity will not dispose us 
to expect a domestic atmosphere of virtue and piety at 
the Vatican, and it is singular that any historian has 
affected to find such. That Leo heard or said mass 
daily, and was attentive to his ceremonious obligations, 
is not, in that age, inconsistent with impropriety of 
conduct. His lavish charity was a becoming part of his 
habitual liberality, and his weekly fasts were rather 
intended to reduce the flesh than to subdue it. On the 

J '■ 

300 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

other hand, some of the frivolous remarks attributed to 
him have not the least authority. When the Venetian 
ambassador ascribes to him the saying, ** Let us enjoy 
the Papacy now that God has given it to us, " we may 
or may not have a mere popular rumour, though the 
phrase is at least a correct expression of Leo's ideal; 
but that the Pope ever mockingly attributed his good 
fortime to "the fable about Jesus Christj' is not stated 
until long after his death, and then only by an English 
controversialist, the ex-Carmelite Bale. Whether Leo 
was or was not addicted to sins of the flesh is not a grave 
matter of historical inquiry, but the evidence seems to 
me conclusive that, at least in his Pontifical days, he 
was irregular. ' 

The character of life at the Vatican and in Rome 
imder Leo X. was, indeed, such as to prevent us from 
imputing any moral scruples to the Pope. Leo spent, 
on the lowest estimate, five million ducats in eight 
years, and left debts which are variously estimated at 
from half a million to a million ducats. He must have 
spent nearly £300,000 per year, and in order to make his 
official income of about 400,000 ducats meet this strain 

' Dr. Pastor (viii., 81) is here less candid than usual. He says that 
** Giovio passes over the whole truth of the accusations brought against 
the moral conduct of Leo X./* whereas the Bishop of Nocera devotes 
several very curious pages to the subject (lib. iv., pp. 96-99 in the 1551 
edition of the Vila Leonis X.) and ends with a reminder that we can 
never be quite sure about the secrets of the chamber and an assurance 
that Leo was at all events less guilty than other Italian princes. The 
courtly writer seems to me convinced that Leo was addicted to un- 
natural vice. Vaughan, on the other hand, is wrong in saying that 
Giovio alone mentioned these vices. Guicciardini (lib. xvi., c.v., p. 254, 
in' the 1832 edition of the Sioria d* Italia) ^ in the course of a sober char- 
acterization of Leo, says that he was generally believed to be chaste 
before his election, but he was "afterwards found to be excessively 
devoted to pleasures which cannot be called decent. " 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 301 

he created and sold superfluous offices — they were 
estimated at 2150 at this death, — ^pressed the sale of 
indulgences and the exaction of fees and first-fruits, and 
borrowed large sums at exorbitant rates of usury; 
several of his bankers and friends were ruined at his 
death. A very large proportion of this money went in 
gifts to literary men and scholars. Leo was a royal 
spendthrift of the most benevolent and thoughtless 
nature. All the scribblers of Italy flocked to Rome, and 
money was poured out without discrimination as long 
as it lasted. Yet letters and scholarship actually 
decayed owing to the recklessness of the payments. 
"The splendour of the Leonine age, so often and so 
much belauded, is in many respects more apparent than 
real, " says Dr. Pastor, who has several valuable chap- 
ters on Leo's relation to letters and art. The Roman 
University, which the Pope at first supported with great 
liberality, was suffered to decay, and great artists were 
not always encouraged. Ariosto was treated harshly, 
and, while Rafael and his pupils were richly employed, 
Michael Angelo was little used. Leo did not adequately 
appreciate sctdpture or architecture, and even the 
building of St. Peter's made very little progress during 
his Pontificate. It is true that the state of the Papal 
finances was the chief reason for the neglect of the great 
architectural and educational plans of his predecessors. 
The check to the sale of indulgences — brought about by 
Cardinal Ximenes in Spain as well as by Luther in 
Germany — ^was felt severely at Rome.' But we read 
that to the end Leo spent prodigious simis on musicians, 
decorators, goldsmiths, and jewellers. An inventory 

'It is sometimes pointed out, rather in the way of merit, that Leo 
received less than some of his predecessors by the issue of indulgences. 
It was not from want of will on his part. 

302 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

in the Vatican archives values at 204,655 ducats the 
jewels he left behind. 

It was, in fact, not so much the discriminating pro- 
motion of art and culture as a princely luxuriousness 
that absorbed Leo's funds. He was temperate at 
table. The cardinals and wealthier Romans continued 
to enjoy the senselessly rich banquets which they seem 
to have copied from the most decadent pages of Roman 
history. Cardinal Comaro is noted as giving a dinner 
of sixty-five courses on silver dishes. Banker Chigi, a 
useful friend of Leo, had his valuable plate thrown into 
the river after one choice banquet ; and on the occasion 
of his marriage with his mistress (whose finger was held 
by Leo to receive the ring) he brought luxuries, even 
live fish, from the ends of Europe. Banker Strozzi 
gave rival banquets, at which cardinals fraternized with 
courtesans. Leo approved, and sometimes attended, 
these banquets (at Chigi's palace), but was personally 
temperate. He had only one meal each day, and fasting 
fare on three days in each week, but he spent inmiense 
sums on musicians and trinket-makers, and many of his 
pleasures were in the grossest taste of the time. Men 
of prodigious appetite — one of them a Dominican friar 
— ^were brought to his table to amuse him and his guests 
by their incredible gluttony. The Pope bandied verses 
with half-dnmken poetasters and patronized the coars- 
est buffoons as well as the keenest wits. When he went 
to his coimtry house at Magliana for a few weeks' hunt- 
ing — in which he displayed extraordinary vigour — ^he 
took a troop of his poets, buffoons, musicians, and other 
parasites. At Carnival time he entered into the vnld 
gaiety of Rome; and comedies of the most licentious 
character were staged before him. Ariosto's Suppositi 
(in which Cardinal Cibd took a part), Machiavelli's 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 303 

Mandragola, and Bibbiena's Calandria alternated with 
Terence and Plautus. The Calandria^ written by 
Cardinal Bibbiena, Leo's chief favotirite, the frescoes of 
whose bathroom seem to have been like those on 
certain rooms in Pompeii today, is a comedy of thin 
wit and imrestrained license; the Pope had it pre- 
sented in the Vatican for the entertainment of Isa- 
bella d'Este. 

Such was the Pope who presided over the Lateran 
Council for the reform of the Church, and the historian 
will hardly be expected to enlarge at any length on its 
labours, Julius had initiated the coimcil in order to 
checkmate France and the schismatical cardinals, and 
it continued its thinly attended sittings, at wide inter- 
vals, for four years. Some seventy or eighty Italian 
bishops attended, and they issued some admirable 
coimsels to the clergy to improve their lives, condemned 
heretical writings, and voiced the sincere wish that some 
Christian prince would arrest the advance of the Turks. 
A committee of the council drew up a stringent and 
comprehensive scheme for the reform of Church-abuses, 
but this was lost amid the vehement wrangles of monks, 
bishops, and cardinals. In the end (15 14) a very slender 
reform-bill was issued; nor were the clergy disposed to 
comply with this when they noticed that, in the fol- 
lowing year, Leo himself bestowed a bishopric, and soon 
afterwards the cardinalate, upon the boy-son of Em- 
manuel of Portugal, and granted to the father a large 
share of the proceeds of the issue of indulgences. The 
council also forbade the printing of books without 
approbation, and encouraged the spread of banks or 
pawn-shops (Monti di Piet^) for the poor. On March 
16, 1 5 17, Leo, in spite of the murmurs of the reformers 
and the revolt in Germany, brought to a close his 

304 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

almost futile coiincil. He had no desire whatever for 
reform, and even the measures which were passed were 
not enforced. The reforming prelates were deeply 
saddened by his levity, and, before the close of the 
coimcil, Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola drew up in 
their name an appalling indictment of the state of the 
Church and predicted that the refusal to remedy it 
would bring on them a heavy judgment. 

The one work of the Council in which the Pope took 
a lively interest was the granting of a Concordat to 
France. The Gallican sentiments of the French pre- 
lates and doctors had been embodied in the Pragmatic 
Sanction (1438), and Rome had not ceased to protest 
against this cession to local councils of the powers it 
claimed. By the Concordat of 15 16 the King and the 
Pope virtually divided these powers between them; 
the King had the right of nomination to bishoprics 
and abbeys, the Pope received the ''first-fruits" (An- 
nates). The Concordat was signed by Leo on Septem- 
ber 16, 15 1 6, but was not published imtil 15 18, when 
it caused fierce indignation at the universities and 
among the clergy. 

Leo had dismissed the reformers of the Lateran 
Coimcil, and in the spring of 15 17, the very year in 
which Martin Luther nailed his challenge on the door of 
the castle-church at Wittenberg, turned with rehef to 
his corrupt court. There had, as we saw, long been an 
outcry in Germany against the corruption of a very large 
proportion of the clergy and against the Papal fiscal 
system, yet Leo had light-heartedly maintained the 
disorders. In 15 14 he had, in order to secure the votes 
of two Electors, conferred the Archbishopric of Mayence 
upon a yotmg and worldly noble, Albert of Branden- 
burg, and had (for a payment of 24,000 ducats) per- 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 305 

mitted him still to retain the sees of Magdeburg and 
Halberstadt. In order to recover the 24,000 ducats, 
which he had borrowed on the security of a share in the 
sale of indulgences, the unscrupulous prelate pressed the 
traffic eagerly, and some of the more enlightened Ger- 
man clergy protested. There were already princes, 
such as the Elector of Saxony, who refused to allow 
the Papal envoys in their dominions, and there were 
writers, like Ulrich von Hutten, who violently assailed 
their procedure. Leo, however, failed to appreciate 
the gravity of the situation and proposed to raise large 
simis, ostensibly for the building of St. Peter's, by 
granting indulgences. 

I have already explained that, though John XXIII. 
imdoubtedly sold absolution "from guilt and from 
penalty, " as the Council of Constance established, the 
indulgence was, properly speaking, a remission of the 
punishment due to sins which had been duly confessed. 
In earlier Papal practice, the indulgence was the com- 
mutation into a money-payment of the penance for 
sin imposed by the Church, but, as the doctrine of Pur- 
gatory developed, the indulgence came to be regarded 
as a remission of the pimishment due in Purgatory. 
Two questions had then arisen on which the schoolmen 
had exercised their ingenuity: on what groimd could 
the Church claim to remit this punishment, and whether 
the indulgence could be extended to the dead who were 
actually suffering in Purgatory? The schoolmen found 
a satisfactory answer to both questions. Then Boni- 
face IX. decreed that an indulgence might be earned by 
a payment of money to the Church (the price of a voy- 
age to Rome), and the way was opened for the later 
abuse. In their commercial zeal the Papal envoys and 
preachers imdoubtedly represented that souls were de- 

3o6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Kvered from the fire of Purgatory when the coin rang 
in their collecting boxes. 

The Dominican monk Tetzel, who in 15 17 was sent 
to preach the indulgence as Albert of Brandenburg's 
sub-commissary, was more zealous than, scrupulous in 
his representations, and people of Wittenberg, who had 
crossed the frontier in order to profit by the indulgence, 
came home with imedifying reports of his sermons. 
Martin Luther, then a professor at the Wittenberg 
University, heard these reports with disdain. There 
was no defined doctrine of the Church on the subject, 
and more than one divine had felt, like Luther, that 
this apparent traffic was as enervating to real piety as 
it was in itself distasteful. A man of intense and stormy 
spiritual experience, he sternly combated all that seemed 
to encourage *' sloth" in religious life; his was the more 
arduous religion of St. Paul and St. Augustine. Con- 
scious, therefore, that the whole practice was based on 
comparatively recent speculations of the schoolmen, 
which he had a right to dispute, he challenged Tetzel 
to justify his ''lying fables and empty promises." A 
war of pamphlets ensued, and, as his opponents natu- 
rally appealed to the language in which the Popes had 
annoimced indulgences, Luther was compelled to slight 
the words of the Popes and appeal to the declarations 
of Cotmcils and the teaching of Scripture. He was 
still orthodox ; the language he used had been heard in 
the Church for two centuries, and in that age one would 
as soon have thought of claiming impeccability as in- 
fallibility for the Popes. 

At the beginning of 15 18 it was reported to Rome that 
the agitation raised by the robust professor was seriously 
interfering with the indulgences, and Leo, encouraged 
by the angry Dominicans, directed his superiors to re- 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 307 

strain him. When they failed, he summoned Luther 
to Rome. The monk, knowing how such trials ended 
at Rome, appealed to the Elector of Saxony and to 
Maximilian, The appeal to the Emperor, however, 
fell at a time when the Papal favour was sought for 
Charles, and Maximilian encouraged the Pope to take 
action. Leo ordered Luther to present himself at once 
before the Papal Legate and prepare for trial at Rome. 
On the other hand Frederic of Saxony insisted that 
Luther should be examined in Germany, and the Pope 
dreaded to irritate an Elector on the eve of an imperial 
election. Legate Cajetan was therefore empowered to 
see the rebel at Augsburg, and a series of futile confer- 
ences took place on October I2th-I4th. Luther wished 
to argue and justify his thesis : Cajetan was instructed 
merely to demand his submission. Luther insisted 
that he should be tried by the learned doctors of Basle, 
Freiburg, Louvain, and Paris: the legate was charged 
to assert the Papal authority. On October i8th 
Luther departed in disgust for Wittenberg; and his 
temper was not improved by the discovery that Leo 
had, on Augtist 23d, directed the legate, in case of 
obstinacy, to declare him heretical. He appealed to a 
General Coimcil. 

Luther was still within the limits of orthodox senti- 
ment and practice, and the protection of the Elector 
embarrassed the Pope. A more diplomatic envoy, Karl 
von Militz, a Papal chamberlain, was sent to Germany, 
and some months were spent in amiable correspondence. 
Luther promised to be silent if his opponents would keep 
silence, and wrote a respectful letter to the Pope; to 
which Leo made a gracious reply. But the truce was 
little more than a diplomatic regard for Papal interests 
during the period of the imperial election, and the policy 

3o8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

of silence soon proved impossible for both sides. Ul- 
rich von Hutten and other critics encouraged Luther 
to assail the Papal authority, and the exaggerations 
of his opponents reacted on the growth of his mind. 
By the end of 1519 he seems to have concluded, with 
some firmness, that the Papal system was an imwar- 
ranted addition to primitive Christianity, and a formid- 
able movement supported his ideas. 

In January (1520) Luther's case was submitted to a 
commission of theologians at Rome, and the Elector was 
stimmoned to compel him to retract. Frederic re- 
fused, and in June Leo signed the Bull Exsurge Dotnine; 
Luther was to be excommunicated if he did not submit 
within sixty days, and the secular authorities would 
incur an interdict if they did not sturender him. It 
is not of material interest to quarrel with the Pope's 
procedure: to point out that the disappointed Cajetan 
was one of the heads of the commission of inquiry, and 
that Luther's vehement opponent Eck was one of the 
two legates entrusted with the publication of the Bull. 
Rome demanded submission; and, if Luther had sub- 
mitted, some other German would before long have 
instituted the Reformation. Europe was ripe for 
schism, and it may be doubted whether even a reform 
of the Church would have long prevented the growth of 
a body of men holding the Reformers' view of the bases 
of Papal authority. On December loth (1520) Luther 
publicly burned the Bull. Even this act was not with- 
out orthodox precedent, but Luther was constantly 
advancing. He was simmioned before the Diet of 
Worms in April (152 1), and he then stated that the word 
of neither Popes nor Cotmcils would condemn him ; he 
must be judged by reason and Scripture. But the 
political situation, which casts its shadow throughout 

Leo X. and the Dance of Death 309 

on the development, was now modified. Charles ob- 
tained his wish of an alliance with the Papacy against 
France. This alliance was signed on May 8th : on the 
I2th the Diet issued the Edict of Worms. Luther was, 
in accordance with the Pope's second Bull,' declared a 
heretic. He retreated to the Wartburg imder the pro- 
tection of Frederic, and the gravest phase of the 
struggle opened.* 

Leo died in December, as I have stated, leaving to his 
successor the terrible legacy of his frivolity in face of a 
grave calamity. In his last two years he apprehended, 
to some extent, the magnitude of the German trouble, 
but he plainly proposed to answer the jtist demand of 
reform only by the burning of a few heretics. His 
entirely dishonourable diplomacy and his costly indul- 
gence of tastes which ill befitted a successor of Leo I. 
imposed the last imendurable burden on the patience of 
Europe. For him the Papacy was a principality, and 
the religious nature of its financial sources makes more 
contemptible the use to which he put his wealth. Even 
that artistic splendour which casts a glow over the 
Papacy before the breaking of the great storm owed 
to him comparatively little. The middle or secular 
phase of the development of the Papacy came to an end 
in the tawdry luxuries and imscrupulous measures of a 
Pope who has been treated with singular favour at the 
bar of Catholic history. 

' In Ccsna Domini, March 28th. 

'The situation in England does not call for consideration in this 
chapter. Henry VIII. wrote against Luther and, in presenting his 
book to the Pope, requested a title analogous to that of "the most 
Catholic King." By a Bull of October 26, 1521, Henry received the 
title of "Defender of the Faith," which his successors retain. 



THE period immediately following the death of Leo 
X. is known as that of the Counter-Reformation. 
The name which has climg to the great religious schism 
of the sixteenth century still indicates how essentially 
it was, in its origin, a protest against the corruption of 
the mediaeval Church. The reform of dogma was an 
afterthought; and the Reformation would probably 
have proved one more futile and academic criticism of 
the mediaeval growth of doctrine if it had not primarily 
appealed to the very general resentment against the 
practices of the Curia and contempt for the unworthy 
lives of so large a proportion of the clergy and regulars. 
The situation, indeed, offers a romantic aspect to the 
historian. If a strong and entirely religious man, like 
Cardinal Carafa, had succeeded Leo X., it might have 
been possible, by a notable improvement in practice, 
to disarm a very effective proportion of the followers 
of the Reformers and thus to put back for a century or 
two the doctrinal revision. Unhappily for the Papacy, 
Leo X. had filled the Sacred College with men of his 
own disposition, and thirty years were wasted in fruit- 
less efforts at compromise. In those thirty years, the 
hesitating criticisms of Luther crystallized into a settled 
creed which no persuasion could dissolve and no per- 
secution could obhterate. 


Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 311 

Hadrian VI., who followed Leo, spent two unhappy 
years (152 1-3) in a pitiable and wholly vain attempt 
to save the authority of the Popes in northern Europe. 
Sprung from a pious working-class family of the Low- 
lands, and retaining his simple tastes and stem religious 
idealism in the evil atmosphere of the higher clergy, he 
sincerely resented the vices and frivolity of the car- 
dinals. Rome itself now ridiculed so fiercely the con- 
trast between their pretensions and their hves that the 
worldly cardinals were imable to put into power a man 
like Leo X., and the learned, venerable, and more or 
less disdained Hadrian VL shuddered to find himself 
at the helm on so stormy a sea. He was not the type 
of man to save the Church. With simple fidelity, he 
at once made it clear that the debased policy of his 
predecessor was abandoned ; but he had not the strength 
to control the crowd of discontented cardinals and 
prelates, or to frame and carry through a consistent 
scheme of reform. He was concerned, too, about the 
financial loss which would be caused by a thorough 
reform, and the traffic in benefices and indulgences was 
merely moderated instead of being abolished. The cur- 
tailment was in itself a confession that the system was 
corrupt, and the Reformers scoffed at Hadrian's invi- 
tation to return on such a basis, while orthodox Cath- 
olics deplored the candour of the admission. Between 
these antagonistic and weighty forces the slender 
energy of the well meaning Pontiff was exhausted in 
two years. 

The Pontificate of Clement VII. (1523-34) was a 
compromise ; he was a Medicean Pope (Giuliode' Medici) , 
a patron of art and letters, but a man of sober taste 
and regular life. It was a compromise, too, between 
a keen intelligence and a flabby will — a sagacious per- 

312 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

ception of the danger and a complete lack of the virility 
needed to avert it — and eleven further years of impo- 
tence permitted the Reformation to take deep and 
indestructible root in Germany. Clement VII. was, 
in fact, largely absorbed in the imending political 
struggle/ After some vacillation he allied himself 
with France against Charles V., and Charles won. 
Rome had to endure one of the most cruel and most 
prolonged pillages in its history, and the Pope was for 
seven months imprisoned in Sant* Angelo. He made 
peace with Charles, but he had little satisfaction in 
contemplating the imperial shadow which lay over 
fallen Italy, while the Turks came ever nearer an^ no 
Christian monarch would advance against them. In 
these circtmistances. Protestantism became a creed 
and spread over the north. Henry VIII. married 
Anne Boleyn and became the "defender" of a new faith; 
and the revolt spread to Switzeriand and Scandinavia. 
The scanty measures of reform passed by Clement 
were regarded with disdain by the dissenters, and the 
artistic Renaissance itself never recovered from the 
sack of Rome and the overnmning of Italy. It was 
left to the foimders of new religious congregations, 
especially the Oratorians, Theatines, and Bamabites, 
and to the reformers of the older orders, to lay the 
foundations of the Coimter-Reformation. 

Clement died on September 25, 1534, and the College 
of Cardinals, which had almost become the curse of the 
Church, met to elect a successor. Few of these cardinals, 
even now, grasped with any intelligence the grave situ- 
ation of their Church. It was, indeed, feared that, 
while the reform was spreading rapidly in the north, 
the Conclave would be wrecked by the conflict of the 
French and Imperialist partisans. The struggle was 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 313 

so menacing that a politically neutral cardinal was 
forced upon the College, and the graver need of the 
Church — the need of a Pontiff of the most sincere and 
spontaneous religion, as well as of large mind and 
inflexible will — ^was almost imnoticed. 

Alessandro Famese, who now became Paul III.,' 
was a man of high intelligence, fine culture, and great 
will-power; but he had neither the immaculate record 
and deep piety which were needed to impress the Re- 
formers nor the political decision which might have 
compensated for these defects. However much the 
historian may appreciate the difficulties of the Papacy, 
he cannot but recognize that the idea of compromising 
with the Reformers had at least since 1520 been futile. 
Paul III. had, it is true, no idea of compromise: the 
dissenters were to surrender every doctrinal and disci- 
plinary claim, or to be extinguished. The great Euro- 
pean schism could now have been remedied by no man. 
But a reform of the Church on other than doctrinal 
matters might have done much to arrest the spread of 
Protestantism, and on this Paul compromised. His 
policy was a reflection of his personality ; he was a son 
of the Renaissance Church, and feebly — ^in spite of his 
admitted strength of will — ^he endeavoured to retain 
certain pleasant features of the vicious ancien rSgime 
with which to soften the asperity of the new ideal 
which was forced upon him. He was in a sense a Papal 
Louis XVIII. 

We remember Paul as the brother of Alexander VI's 
doll-like mistress, Giulia Famese. Bom on February 

* For the valuable letters of the Italian ambassadors at the time of the 
Conclave see VElezione del Papa Paolo III. (1907) by P. Accame. An 
almost contemporary biography of Paul is given in the Vita et Res 
Cesta Ramanorum Pontificum of Ciaconius. 

314 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

29, 1468, he had received early instruction in the new 
culture from Pomponio Leto at Rome, and had spent 
his youth in that seminary of the Humanists, the 
splendid palace of Lorenzo de' Medici at Florence, and 
then at Pisa University. His wealth was far inferior 
to the nobility of his descent, and it was not imtil his 
yoimg sister had attracted the eye of the voluptuous 
Pope that he was promoted to the cardinalate (Sep- 
tember 20, 1493). In 1502, he was appointed legate 
for the March of Ancona, and the more comfortable 
establishment he could now afford to maintain included 
a mistress. Four children — Pier Luigi, Paolo, Cos- 
tanza, and Ranuccio — ^were bom in his palace between 
1502 and 1509; and the eldest son and Costanza were 
familiar figures in Roman society during his later 

The more minute inquirer will find the doctiments 
transcribed from the Vatican archives, relating to these 
children, in Pastor. ' His mistress died at an early age 
in 1513, and Alessandro (now forty-five years old) is 
described as moderating his irregularities and as de- 
voting some attention to his bishopric of Parma, 
Papal historians observe with pride that his irregular- 
ities entirely ceased in 1519, when he was ordained 
priest. The friend of his youth, Leo X., cordially 
included him in his generous patronage, and he was 
able to build the Famese palace and to cultivate ambi- 
tion. In 1523, he made an effort to secure the tiara, 
but at the Conclave the cardinals had not the courage 
to present to the Reformers as Pontiff the father of 
four children. He stifled his lament that Clement VII. 
had "robbed him of ten years of the Papacy," and 
became as amiable a friend of that Pope as he had been 

«XI., 19-20. 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 315 

of his five predecessors; and amidst the fierce clash of 
political passion he retained a diplomatic neutrahty. 
He shared Clement's bitter days in Sant' Angelo, yet 
did not quarrel with the Imperialists. 

These characteristics marked Alessandro for the 
throne; and they at the same time ensured that his 
struggle with Protestantism would be entirely futile. 
He was now sixty-seven years old, and we easily picture 
him from Titian's wonderful portrait; frail and worn 
in flesh and stooping with age ; yet his penetrating eyes 
and large bald dome of a forehead indicated a great 
energy of will and force of intellect. He was essentially 
a diplomat, and the cardinals, absorbed for the most 
part in the political troubles, did not reflect that the 
rapier of diplomacy was the last weapon with which to 
meet the stout staves of the northerners. He was an 
excellent listener, a sparing and deliberate talker, a 
most skilful postponer of crucial decisions; a **vas dHa- 
tioniSf*' the Roman wits said, parodying the description 
of a greater Paul. 

Dr. Pastor thinks that the reforming cardinals — of 
whom there were now many — ^had much confidence in 
his disposition to reform. If they had, their trust is in 
the main another tribute to his diplomatic skill. He 
had no idea of reforming the Curia and the Church 
further than might be exacted of him by impleasant 

Shrewd observers must quickly have observed that 
Paul III. remained at heart a Famese. His son, Pier 
Luigi, visited him in Rome soon after his election. 
Pier Luigi had become a military adventurer, a feeble 
emulator of Caesar Borgia, and by taking arms in the 
Imperialist service, had incurred excommimication 
imder Clement. Paul is said to have received his son 

3i6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

in secret and directed him to keep away from Rome. 
There was to be no open nepotism. But in a few weeks 
Pier Liiigi was back in Rome and was observed to have 
plenty of money. Paul was crowned on November 3d 
(1534) ^^d annoimced his intention to reform the 
Church. On December i8th he bestowed the cardinal- 
ate on two of his nephews, Guido Sforza and Alessandro 
Pamese. Sforza was a youth of seventeen ; Alessandro 
was a fourteen-year old pupil at Bologna, yet he re- 
ceived, besides the red hat, the governorship of Spoleto 
and such a number of profitable benefices that he was 
soon able to outshine some of the more ostentatious 
cardinals; and in the next year he was made Vice- 
Chancellor. Both he and Sforza were notoriously 
immoral. Pier Luigi was made Gonfaloniere, Com- 
mander of the Papal troops, and Duke of Castro; and 
proportionate benefits were showered on all friends and 
connexions of the Famese family. 

It would not be history to dwell on the "obstinacy** 
of the Reformers and to fail to emphasize these very per- 
tinent and entirely undisputed facts ; but I will dismiss 
in few words this aspect of Paul's character. Nepo- 
tism was one of his most persistent traits, and we shall 
repeatedly find his direction of Papal poUcy perverted 
by a care for the worldly advancement of his family. 
He was equally imable and imwilling to break with the 
gayer tradition of the Borgia-Medici court. He loved 
pageantry and comedy, encouraged the merry riot of 
the carnival, favoured astrologers, buffoons, and pseudo- 
classical poets, and Uked to dine with fair women. It 
is, perhaps, not much to say that his private life — at the 
age of seventy — was irreproachable; but it is not im- 
material to observe that he gave an indulgent eye to the 
conduct of the looser cardinals. Instead of sternly 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 317 

attempting to crush that large body of loose and luxu- 
riotis cardinals to whom, in the first place, we may trace 
the catastrophe of the Church, he added, at each pro- 
motion, a few to their number. Of the seventy-one 
cardinals he promoted during his Pontificate the great 
majority were good men; but a few were of such a 
character that their election was, in the actual situation 
of the Church, impardonable. 

These little personal details must be considered first 
if we are to imderstand aright the attitude of Paul III. 
toward reform and the reforming coimcil. From the 
first he assured his visitors that he intended to reform 
the Church. Before the end of 1534, he appointed 
two reform commissions — one on morals and the other 
on Church offices; though he chilled the zeal of the 
more ardent cardinals by enjoining them to take into 
accoimt the circumstances. In the spring of 1535, 
he prosecuted Cardinal Accolti for grave abuse of his 
position of legate, but compromised for a fine of 59,000 
scudi. The Reformers of Germany had from the first 
appealed to a coimcil, and Paul declared himself in 
favour of a coimcil; but he insisted that it must be 
summoned by him, presided over by his legates, and 
held in Italy; and this not only the princes of the 
Schmalkaldic League but the three monarchs concerned 
emphatically refused. Charles V. saw that such a 
council would be — as Paul III. well knew — utterly 
useless as an instrument of reconciliation; Francis I. 
did not want reconciliation at all, since it would give 
to Charles command of a united Germany; and Henry 
VIII., who accepted the title of Head of the English 
Church in 1534, and in the following year initiated his 
policy of bloody persecution, had done with Rome. 
In fact, instead of giving all the negotiations about a 

31 8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

council, I would point out that there never was the 
slightest hope by such a means of ending the schism. 
Each side was absolutely convinced of the truth of its 
formulae, and very few, least of all. the Pope, thought 
that compromise was possible or desirable. Luther 
was quite wilUng to attend a coimcil, even in Italy ; but 
merely in order to convince the Church of its errors and 
abominations. The Pope wanted a coimcil merely 
in order to formulate Catholic doctrine in clear ofiBcial 
terms and thus to provide a standard for the condem- 
nation and extermination of the heretics. No Pope 
could think otherwise. 

Paul at length ventured to annoimce "to the city 
and the world" that a general coimcil would be held, 
at Mantua on the 23d of May, 1537; but when the 
Duke of Mantua directed the Pope to send an army to 
protect his council, the design was abandoned. A 
Bull next announced that the council would meet at 
Vicenza on May i, 1538; but as only five prelates had 
arrived there when, on May 12th, the three Papal 
Legates made their imposing entry — after waiting in 
nervous hope some distance away — that project, also, 
was abandoned. I would not agree that Paul did not 
sincerely want a council, but during the first ten years 
the council he wanted was an impossibility. 

Meantime, the idea of reform by commissions was 
sustaining the half-desperate hopes of the better car- 
dinals at Rome. In February, 1537, the commission 
drew up so sound and true and large a scheme of reform 
that the anti-reformers successfully pleaded that it 
would injure the Church to publish it, and it remains 
'*a scrap of paper" in the Vatican Archives. After 
much discussion, Paul decided to begin with the reform 
of the Dataria (an office of the Court which yielded 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 319 

more than 50,000 ducats a year, nearly half the entire 
income, to the Papal exchequer in connexion with the 
issue of graces, privileges, dispensations, etc.), and a fur- 
ther long discussion ensued. The discussion lasted 
some three years, without practical issue, and it was 
not imtil the end of 1540 that a few obvious reforms 
could be carried in some of the departments of the 
Curia. Characteristic is the story of one of these 
reforms. Pressed by the sterner cardinals, who wrote 
grave letters to each other on the Pope's conduct, to 
put an end to the scandal of non-resident prelates 
(absentee landlords), Paul summoned eighty of them, 
who were living in comfort at Rome, to return to 
their dioceses. There was terrible alarm. But they 
successfully pleaded that they could not live on the 
mere incomes of their sees, and they remained in 
Rome. Paul had to be content with discharging a 
few officials, directing the clergy to reform their 
lives and their sermons, and encouraging the new 
religious congregations: among which was a certain 
very small community, calling itself the "Company 
of Jesus," which seemed to him, when it first appeared 
in Rome, eccentric and of very doubtful value to the 

In the meantime, Paul had successfully maintained 
the political neutrality which he had from the first 
contemplated. Francis and Charles both sought alli- 
ance with him, and he tried instead to reconcile them 
and avert war. It is to his credit that when Charles, 
perceiving his weakness, offered, as the price of alliance, 
the marquisate of Novara to Pier Luigi and a principal- 
ity in Naples to Pier's son Ottavio, Paul still refused. 
But the fact that in 1536 he received Charles with 
great pomp at Rome irritated Francis, and war broke 

320 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

out/ In view of the advances of the Turks, Paxil 
went in person to Nice, in the spring of 1538, and re- 
conciled the two monarchs, but his nepotism again 
mars the merit of this work. He arranged that his 
grandson Ottavio, a boy of thirteen, should marry the 
Emperor's natural daughter, Margaret of Austria, a 
girl-widow of sixteen, who hated the boy; and their 
connubial arrangements added, for many years, to 
the scandal or the gaiety of Rome. Paul was also 
severely blamed for the imscrupulous way in which he 
wrested the duchy of Camerino from the Varani and 
gave it to Ottavio. When Francis violently objected 
to this virtual alliance, Paul married his granddaughter 
Vittoria to a French prince. Nor were the Reformers 
pleased when they learned that, in return for the Em- 
peror's natural daughter, the Pope had granted to 
Charles the right to publish indulgences in Spain, and 
had given him other privileges which would yield him 
a milUon ducats a year of Church money; and that 
neither Francis nor Charles would help Italy to face 
the Turks. 

The imchecked advance of the Turk had, indirectly, 
another grave disadvantage for the Papacy. Charles 
needed the imited forces of his dominions to meet the 
Turks, and the Protestants profited by his need. 
Whatever may be said about the amiable intentions 
of Paul III., at an earlier date, he now plainly designed 
to crush the followers of the Reformers in the field. 

' See, for this aspect of Paul's Pontificate, an article by L. Cardauns, 
"Paul III., Karl V., und Franz I.,'* in Quellen und Forschungen aus 
Italienischen Archiven, Bd. XL, Heft I., pp. 147-244. The writer holds 
that an alliance with Charles was advisable with a view to crush Pro- 
testantism. There is certainly much evidence that Paul wished to 
discover which of the rival monarchs would do most for his children, 
yet he assuredly had a sincere desire for neutrality. 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 321 

He sent his grandson, Cardinal Alessandro Pamese, 
to the courts of Francis and of Charles, and the instruc- 
tions which he gave him, as well as the letters of the 
Cardinal himself, show that he sought, not only their 
support of his Italian coundl, but the co-operation of 
the monarchs against the Turks and the Protestants.' 
Both refused, and Charles, in spite of the Pope's vehe- 
ment objections, consented to the holding of another 
conference or discussion with the representatives of 
the Protestants. The conference took place at Hagenau 
on Jime 12th, and had, of course, no result, but a fresh 
attempt was made at Worms in January 1541, and 
Paul sent Bishop Campeggio and four theologians to 
meet the Protestant divines. It is needless to discuss 
the Colloquy in detail, since such experiments never 
had the least prospect of success, but the next conference 
is of some interest. 

Some of the German princes, like the Duke of Bava- 
ria, had no wish to see a reh'gious reconciliation, since 
their ambition had a larger chance of success in a dis- 
united Empire; and Francis I. was only too eager to 
support these princes.^ Other vassals of the Emperor 
were irreconcilable Protestants. But there were on 
both sides a few men of a moderate disposition, who 
believed that a roimd-table conference might still se- 
cure religious peace, if not the old tmity. Charles V. 
was of this opinion, and he made it a test of the Pope's 
sincerity that he should co-operate in a last attempt. 

' See Nuntiaturberichte aus DeutscUand, edited by W. Priedensberg, 
V. 140 and 59. Many useful documents will also be found in H. Loem- 
mer's Monumenta Vaticana historiam ecdesiasticam sactUi XVI, iUuS' 
trafUia, 1861. 

' See the report of the Venetian ambassador in Le ReUudoni degli am- 
basciaiori Veneti, edited by C. Alberi, ist series. 


322 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Cardinal Contarini, a man of impressive character and 
considerable ability, was sent as legate, and for some 
time before the opening of the Diet of Ratisbon, he 
zealotisly endeavoured to find the dogmatic formute 
which had some prospect of common acceptance. 
Charles had begged the Pope to confer large powers of 
concession on his legate, but we now know that Patd 
gave him but slender authority, couched in the vaguest 
of language.' If any attempt were made to set- 
tle important points of doctrine, he was to protest 
and leave the Diet. In a later instruction, he warned 
Contarini not to allow the Emperor to suspect that 
Rome favoured the use of force rather than persuasion, 
and to say, in regard to the proposal that the Papacy 
should send 50,000 scudi for the purpose of bribing 
influential Protestants, that such a design seemed 
neither decent nor safe, but that the 50,000 scudi 
would be sent "for distribution," if, and when, a recon- 
ciliation was effected. * It is plain that Paul foresaw the 
complete failure of the Colloquy — we must remember 
that success depended entirely on concession and no 
Pope could make a concession on doctrine — and in- 
tended to make the failure a ground for an appeal to 

The Diet opened on April 27, 154 1, and in a few weeks 
Contarini and his friends annoimced with sincere joy 
that they had reached a common formula on so delicate 
a topic as justification. This agreement had been 
reached by the Papal Legate accepting a semi-heretical 
formula, which Rome afterwards rejected. But the 

* E. Dietrich, Kardinal Contarini (1885), p. 565. 

* This curious side-Hght on the history of the Reformation is given, 
in a document reproduced from the secret archives of the Vatican, by 
Dr. Pastor (id., 431). 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 323 

futility of the proceedings soon became apparent. 
When they went on to disctiss transubstantiation and 
penance, priestly celibacy and monastic vows, the 
antagonism became acute, and the Colloquy ended in 
disorder. The Pope rejected all the formulae approved 
by his Legate, and wrote him, on Jime loth, that he 
was sending the 50,000 scudi, and would send a larger 
simi if the Catholics foimd it necessary to draw the 
sword against the heretics. Some of the stricter car- 
dinals at Rome, such as Carafa and Toledo, were now 
convinced that force was necessary. 

In September (1541) the Pope met the Emperor at 
Lucca. Charles insisted that the coimcil, whatever 
form it took, must be held in Germany, but Paul pleaded 
that he wished to preside in person and that his age 
forbade so lengthy a journey. We shall hardly be 
tmjust if we regard these pleas as pretexts. The forth- 
coming coimcil was, in the Pope's view, — an inevitable 
view, — to be a canonical gathering for the stricter defini- 
tion of the doctrines already rejected by the Reformers ; 
when that council had formulated the faith, the secular 
powers must deal with any who dissented from it. 
Paul still fought for the holding of the coimcil in Italy, 
where he could overwhelm the Protestant envoys, but 
as it became entirely certain that not a single Protestant 
would come to Italy, he spoke of Cambrai, Metz, and 
other alternatives, and at length consented to Trent. 
Still there was much friction, and many were not yet 
convinced that the Pope sincerely desired a reform- 
council. Francis I. angrily exclaimed that this council 
seemed to be an imperial concern, and he refused to 
publish the Bull of Convocation. Charles, on the 
other side, was annoyed to find that in the Bull he was 
put on a level with that perfidious ally of the infidel, 

324 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Francis I., and he threatened to keep his German 
prelates from going to Trent. But the Pope energet- 
ically overbore all opposition, and the historic Coimcil 
of Trent was annoimced for November ist. In the 
meantime Quly, 1542), the Pope reconstituted the In- 
quisition in Italy and put it under the control of the 
more fanatical cardinals like Carafa. It was empowered 
to imprison heretics, confiscate their goods, and (with 
the use of the secular arm) to put them to death. Dr. 
Pastor deplores that the Vatican authorities still refuse 
to allow access to the records of the Roman Inquisition, 
so that we are very imperfectly acquainted with its 

The Papal Legates arrived at Trent with great pomp, 
on November 22d, three weeks after the appointed 
date, yet not a single bishop had appeared. Six weeks 
later the arrival of two bishops gave them a slender 
satisfaction, but by the end of March not more than 
a dozen bishops — and these mostly Italians — ^had 
reached the seat of the coimcil. Neither Germans nor 
French would come, and the Italians thought it prudent 
not to arrive in a body so as to give to the coimcil a 
national complexion. In the summer, Paul went to 
confer with Charles at Parma, but the issue of their 
conference was a bitter disappointment for the Catholic 
reformers. Paul proposed to suspend the opening of 
the coimcil and to transfer it from Trent, and begged 
the Emperor to bring about a compromise with France, 
by yielding Milan to the Pope's nephew, Ottavio. 
Charles refused to assent, and Paul, on his own account, 
suspended the council and began to look to Francis I. 
for the aggrandizement of his family. 

The events which followed make the historian wonder 
that any have attempted to clear the character of 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 325 

Paul III. of disgraceful nepotism and insincerity. 
Charles V. sought alliance with Henry VIII., and Paul 
sent his nephew, Cardinal Farnese, to the Court of 
Francis I. In that grave crisis of the Church's fortunes, 
we have the Catholic Emperor in alliance with Henry 
VIII., the most Catholic King in alliance with the Turks, 
and the Pope seeking, with a notoriety which gave 
great scandal, the enrichment of his illegitimate child- 
ren and other relatives. Vittoria Farnese, the Pope's 
granddaughter, was betrothed to the Duke of Orleans, 
and the Pope promised her, from the patrimony of St 
Peter, the duchies of Parma and Piacenza as her dowry. 
Charles angrily threatened to invade Rome, and the 
Spanish and German envoys at the Vatican used lan- 
guage which had rarely been heard in the Papal cham- 
bers. It is put to the credit of the Pope only that he 
refused still to disown or condemn Charles, as Francis 
demanded, and that he earnestly sought to reconcile 
the monarchs. In September, his efforts bore fruit 
in the Peace of Crespy. Yet we must recall 'that, as 
all acknowledge, Paul was in part concerned for the 
security of his family in refusing to incur the hostility 
of Charles; and we know that a secret clause of the 
Treaty of Crespy compelled Francis and Charles to 
tmite for the purpose of destroying the Protestants as 
well as the Turks. 

It was also stipulated at Crespy that the council 
should at last begin its labours, and Paul annoimced 
that it would open at Trent on March 25, 1545. But 
the attempt was again abortive, and only two bishops 
greeted the Papal Legates on the appointed date. The 
Catholic monarchs did not believe that the Pope was 
sincere, and the Protestants were violently opposed to 
a cotmcil on the orthodox Catholic lines. Cardinal 

3^6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Pamese was sent to induce the Emperor to send his 
German bishops, and we now find Charles leaning more 
decidedly to the plan of coercion and war. Cardinal 
Pamese writes in high spirits to his imcle that Charles 
is, in alliance with the Papacy, about to make war on 
the Protestants; and it is unhappily characteristic that 
he adds that this alliance may turn to the great profit 
of the Pamese family. ' In fact, the Cardinal returned 
to Rome with all speed, in disguise, and Paul promised 
100,000 ducats and 12,000 men for the war, besides 
granting Charles a half-year's income of the Spanish 
Church and peraiission to raise 500,000 ducats by the 
sale of monastic property. The eagerness of the Pope 
at this adoption of a design he had so long cherished 
may be judged from the fact that his courier to Charles 
left Rome on Jime i6th and reached Worais by the 
23d. Charies, however, had begun to waver in his 
brave resolution, and the war was postponed; but the 
advancement of the Pamesi was not forgotten. The 
duchies of Parma and Piacenza were now given to Pier 
Luigi, and the Pope met the violent protests of the 
cardinals with a statistical "proof" that the duchies 
were of less value than a few small places which his son 
surrendered to the Holy See. The annoyance of the 
reforming prelates was complete when the Pope issued 
a medal representing a naked Ganjnnede leaning on an 
eagle and watering the lily which was the emblem of 
the Pamese family. ^ 

Charles would not consent to the removal of the 
coimcil to Bologna, and it was at length opened at 
Trent on December 13, 1545, with an attendance of 

* Famese's letter to the Pope is reproduced by A. von Druffel, Karl 
V, und die Romische Kurie, iu, 57. 
' It is described in A. Armand, Les MSdailleurs lUUiens, i., 172. 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 327 

four archbishops and twenty-one bishops. The first 
session was purely formal, and the second session 
Qanuary 7th) was occupied by a violent discussion on 
procedure. The Emperor feared that a formulation 
of Catholic doctrines would close the door of the Church 
definitively against the Germans, and he insisted that 
the reform of morals and discipline must come first. 
Paul feared that, if the question of reform came first, 
the coimcil would almost resolve itself into a trial of 
the Papacy; and there is good ground to think that, 
on the other hand, he wanted the doctrines in dispute 
formulated as a preliminary step to the more drastic 
condemnation of the Reformers. The conflict ended in 
compromise : each sitting of the coimcil was to consider 
both doctrine and reform. The correspondence of the 
legates with the Pope* shows how vehemently Paul 
fought for his plan, and it was only at their very grave 
and emphatic assurance that reform must proceed — 
that deeds, not Bulls, were wanted, as they put it — 
that he agreed to the compromise. 

The fathers of the coimcil, who, at the end of June, 
had risen in number to about sixty, had held two fur- 
ther sessions, and had discussed only a few dogmas 
and measures of reform when their labours were again 
suspended by the outbreak of the religious war. The 
Protestants had naturally refused to attend the Papal 
council, and had continued to spread their faith in the 
north. Paul, therefore, urged Charles to carry out 
his design of repressing them by arms, and in June 
(1546) a secret treaty was signed by Charles V., the 
Duke of Bavaria, Ferdinand I., and the Pope uniting 
their forces for an attack upon the Schmalkaldic dis- 
senters. In order to prevent Charles from again losing 

' See Pallavidni's Istaria del CansUio di TrerUo, bks. vL and viL 

328 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

his resolution, the Pope dishonourably communicated 
this treaty to the Protestants, nor was Charles less 
angry with Paul for representing to France, Poland, 
and Venice that the impending struggle was a religious 
crusade in which any Catholic people might assist. 
It was the policy of Charles to place his enterprise on 
purely secular groimds. There was again grave fric- 
tion between Charles and the Pope, and the Pamesi 
mingled with the graver issues a petulant complaint 
that Charles had done so little for them. 

The Protestants, however, were badly organized 
and were soon defeated. Paul bitterly complained 
that Charles would not follow up his victory by initiat- 
ing a policy of persecution in south Germany, and 
wotdd not, when Henry VIII. died (1547), join forces 
with Francis I. for the invasion of England ; and another 
fiery quarrel ensued. The prelates at Trent conceived 
that they were menaced by the distant and subdued 
Protestants, and Paul quickly availed himself of the 
apprehension to demand a removal to Italy. Charles 
went so far as to threaten to confiscate the whole of 
the property of the Church in Germany, but a con- 
venient epidemic broke out at Trent and Paid removed 
the council to Bologna. Another year was spent in 
discussion as to the validity of the transfer, and the 
nmiour that the Pope secretly desired to frustrate the 
work of reform once more gained groimd. This is, as I 
explained, a half-truth. But so little reform was actu- 
ally achieved during the life of Paul that I need not 
deal further here with the Council of Trent. 

The year 1648 was filled with the acrid conflict of 
Pope and Emperor. Paul drew nearer to France, and 
Rome, believing that at length the Pope was about to 
abandon his policy of neutrality, prepared once more 

Paul III. and the Counter-Reformation 329 

for invasion. Charles made no descent on Italy, but 
he now took a step which seemed to the Pope almost 
as scandalous an outrage. He issued his famous Inter- 
rim: a document which enacted that, imtil the points 
in dispute were settled by a coimcil, priests might 
marry, the laity might communicate from the chalice, 
and vague and conciKatory interpretations might be 
put on the doctrines of the Church. In spite of the 
intrigues of France, Paul wearily maintained his nego- 
tiations with Charles, and, to the last, pressed the 
ambitions of his family. In October (1549), however, 
his favourite grandson rebelled against his decision in 
regard to Parma, and the aged Pope abandoned the 
unhappy struggle. He died on November loth of that 

In spite of the efforts of some recent historians, the 
character of Paul does not stand out with distinction in 
the Papal chronicle. His lamentable nepotism mars 
his whole career, and his real reluctance to press the 
work of reform did grave injury to his Church. He 
belonged essentially to the earlier phase of the Papacy, 
and it is apparent that, if he could have extirpated 
Protestantism by the sword, the Papacy would have 
retiuTied to the more decent levities of the days of Leo 
X. As it was, he did comparatively little for either 
culture or religion. He very cordially employed 
Michael Angelo and Sangallo, and showed a concern 
for the antiquities and the monuments of Rome. He 
had ability, power, and taste ; but he had not that fiery 
win for reform and that deep religious faith which were 
needed in that hour of danger. 



THE Council of Trent, which had been convoked 
with the formal aim of healing the great schism 
of Christendom, hardened that schism and made it 
irremediable. I have already observed how natural 
it was that the Papacy should refuse to make open 
confession of its decay, and in some degree surrender 
its authority, by permitting the Church to reform, not 
only its members, but its head. The inevitable con- 
ception of the Popes was to retain the work of reform 
in their own hands and to use the coimcil, if coimcil 
there must be, — ^we have seen that Popes had reason to 
look with suspicion on coimcils, — to secure an agree- 
ment on doctrinal standards by which the Inquisitors 
might judge, and sectdar princes might exterminate, 
heretics. They miscalculated the power of the northern 
rebels and the chances of an unselfish cohesion of the 
Catholic princes against them. Nearly half of Etirope 
adopted a new version of the Christian faith, and, when 
the Thirty Years' War finally proved the indestructibil- 
ity of that creed, the task of the Papacy was narrowed 
to the ruling and reforming of southern Europe and 
the spiritual conquest of the new worlds which had 
appeared beyond the seas. For this fourth phase of 
Papal development — the period from the consolida- 


Sixtus V. and the New Church 331 

tion of the Reformation to the first outbreak of Modem- 
ism in the French Revolution — ^the Pontificates of 
Sixtus V. and Benedict XIV. are the most illimunating 
and significant. 

Even the failure of Paul III. did not entirely banish 
from the Vatican the levity which had been the inmie- 
diate cause of its disaster. Julius III. (i 550-1 555) 
at first resumed, somewhat reluctantly, the sittings of 
the Coimcil of Trent, but he again suspended its work 
in 1552 and entered upon a period of luxurious ease and 
frivolous enjoyment which deeply shocked the graver 
cardinals. At his death the fiery Neapolitan reformer, 
Cardinal Carafa, who had dictated the more severe 
decisions of Paul III., received the tiara, and he spent 
four energetic years (i 555-1 559) in a relentless attack 
upon heresy in Catholic lands. He made vigorous use 
of the Inquisition, which Paul III. had (largely at the 
instigation of St. Ignatius) set up in Rome, and he pub- 
lished a complete Index of Prohibited Books. ' But his 
reforms, his heresy-himts, and his hostility to Spain 
were enforced with such harshness that the Romans 
almost cursed his memory when his short Pontificate 
came to an end. It is a singular illustration of the 
tenacity of abuses at Rome that even the austere 
Carafa was a nepotist, and the nephews he favoured 
were of so imworthy a character that they were exe- 
cuted — ^though one of them was a cardinal — ^by his 

Pius IV. (1559-65) was a more persuasive reformer: 
a Milanese of lowly origin but of some distinction in 
canonical scholarship. He guided to their close the 

« See Dr. G. H. Putnam's Censorship of the Church of Rome (2 vols., 
1907), i., 168. 

332 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

labours of the Council of Trent, ' and on January 26, 
1564, put the Papal seal on the precise formulation of 
the Roman creed. Pius V. (1565-72) brought to the 
Papal throne the austere ideals of a sincere Dominican 
monk. He was not content with persecuting the 
Italians who criticized the Papacy; he did much to 
reform the Papal Court and the city. Gregory XIII. 
(1572-85), a scholarly Pope, mingled in strange propor- 
tion the virtues and vices of his predecessors. His 
name stirvives honourably in the Gregorian Calendar, 
and he did more than any other Pope to encourage the 
spread of that network of Jesuit colleges throughout 
southern Europe which proved so effective a hindrance 
to the advance of Protestantism ; but the Te Deum he 
sang over the foul "St. Bartholomew Massacre" (1572) 
and the condition of infuriated rebellion in which he 
left the Papal States at his death betray his defects. 
The Papal income had fallen considerably since the 
loss of England and north Germany and Scandinavia, 
yet Gregory wished to pay heavy subsidies to the mili- 
tant Catholic princes. He imposed such taxes, and 
aroused such fierce anger by seizing estates after dis- 
puting the title-deeds of the owners, that Italy almost 
slew him with its hatred. 

In these circimistances the famous Sixtus V. moimted 
the Papal throne. Felice Peretti had been bom at 
Grottamare, in the March of Ancona, on December 13, 
152 1. The im wonted vigour of his character is traced 
by some to the Dalmatian blood of his ancestors, who, 
in the preceding century, had fled before the Turks to 
Italy. They had preserved their robust health, and 
attained no fortune, by work on the soil, and there is 

' See, besides the work of Pallavicini already quoted, Paolo Sarpi's 
Istoria del Concilio Tridentino. 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 333 

not the least improbability in the tradition — which 
some recent writers resent — that Felice at one time 
tended his father's swine. * But at the age of nine he 
was sent to the friary at Montalto, where he had an 
imcle, and he proved a good student. He became so 
excellent a preacher that he was summoned to give the 
Lenten Sermons at Rome in 1552, and he attracted the 
notice of St. Ignatius and St. Philip Neri, and of some 
of the graver cardinals. After presiding over one or 
two convents of his Order, he was put in charge of the 
friary at Venice in 1556, and was in the next year made 
Counsellor to the Inquisition. His ardent nature and 
strict ideals caused him to use his powers with such 
harshness that both his brethren and the Venetian 
government attacked him. He was forced several 
times to retire, and in 1560 Rome was definitively 
compelled to withdraw him. 

The fact that he had been thwarted by lax brethren 
and by an (from the Roman point of view) irreligious 
government commended the fiery monk still further 
to his reformer-friends. He received a chair at the 
Sapienza (Roman University) and was made Coimsellor 
to the Holy OflBce. In 1565 Cardinal Buoncompagni 
was sent on a mission to Spain, and, apparently to the 
Cardinal's disgust, the learned friar was included in his 
train. The sincefely religious temper of Sixtus V. 

' It is, however, true that the hostile Italian biographer, Gregorio 
I^eti (Vita di Sisto QuifUOf 3 vols., 1693), who tells this must be read with 
discretion; and we must use equal discretion in reading Tempesti's 
Storia deUa Vita e Geste di Sisto V. (1754), which is inspired by a contrary 
determination to praise Sixtus. I need recommend only the full and 
generally judicious biography of Sixtus which we owe to Baron de 
Hubner (Sixte Quint, 3 vols., 1870), remarking that in it the panegyrical 
tendency is more conspicuous than the critical. For a smaller biography 
M. A. J. Dumesnil's Histaire de SixU-Quint (1869) is excellent. 

334 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

makes it diflScult for some of his biographers to under- 
stand his very original character. In spite of his virtue 
he was quite clearly ambitious, — one must live in the 
ecclesiastical world to realize how the ambition of 
power and the ambition to do good fuse with each other 
in the clerical mind, — ^he had an atrocious temper, and 
he retained what higher-bom prelates would call the 
rudeness of a peasant. He quarrelled with Buon- 
compagni, and, as the mission was never really dis- 
charged, he had no opportunity to distinguish himself. 
However, the new Pope (for whose election Buoncom- 
pagni returned prematurely to Rome) was the friendly 
Dominican colleague, Pius V. Padre Montalto was 
made Vicar Apostolic over the Franciscan Order — ^the 
General having died — and he made a drastic effort to 
refonn the reluctant friars and nims (i 566-1 568). For 
this he received the red hat (1570) and was entrusted 
with the task of editing the works of St. Ambrose. 

Unhappily for the ambitious cardinal-monk, Pius V. 
died in 1572, and Cardinal Buoncompagni ascended the 
throne and took the name of Gregory XIII. He with- 
drew the pension which Pius had assigned to Felice, 
and for the next thirteen years the Cardinal had to live 
in retirement and comparative poverty. In this again 
the very original character of Peretti reveals itself. 
One might expect that so stem a monastic reformer 
would retire to a friary when the Papal Court no longer 
required his presence, but he retired, instead, to his 
very comfortable palace and garden on the Esquiline. 
He had brought his sister Camilla and her son Francesco 
to live in this palace, and even romance and tragedy 
entered the friar's home. Francesco had married a 
beautiful and light-minded Roman girl, and her brother, 
Paolo Orsini, murdered Francesco in order to set her 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 335 

free for a nobler lover. The uncle could get no redress 
under Gregory XIII. He curbed his anger, quietly 
bent over his books, and watched the rising storm in 
Italy which was to close Gregory's reign. 

Gregory died on April lo, 1585, and Cardinal Mon- 
talto was enclosed with his colleagues in the Sistine 
Chapel on April 21st for the making of a new Pope. 
He was in his sixty-fourth year, and his more malicious 
biographer would have us believe that he disguised his 
robustness under a pretence of decrepit age in order to 
deceive the cardinals. The fact seems to be that he 
waited quietly, and without taking sides, in his cell 
imtil the factions had worn themselves out and the 
hour had come for choosing a man who had not been 
regarded as papabile. Most assuredly he deceived the 
cardinals, though not by any dishonest artifice. For 
three days the Medici and Colonna and Famese, and 
the French and Spanish factions, fought their tradi- 
tional battle, and not one of the aspirants could get a 
majority. Then one or two cardinals bethought them- 
selves of this quiet Cardinal Montalto, who had lived 
away on the Esquiline with his rustic sister for so many 
years, and who wotdd surely be grateftd to any for 
elevating him to the throne. They visited Montalto 
and fotmd him humbly and gratefully disposed: they 
intrigued nervously and rapidly in the little colony: 
and presently cardinals rushed to do homage to the 
former swineherd and applaud the Pontificate of Sixtus 
V. He was dtdy grateftd, for a few days. Lucrative 
appointments were at once divided amongst his friends 
and supporters ; though some fear seized men when one 
of the cardinals ventured to bring before the new Pope 
the murderer of his nephew, and Sixtus, in sombre and 
terrible accents, bade the Orsini go and rid himself of 

336 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

his cut-throats. He was crowned on May ist, and he 
lost little time in applying himself to the drastic schemes 
of reform which he had, apparently, matured in his 
peaceful garden on the Esquiline. 

Yet the first act of the reformer betrays a defect and 
compels us to deal at once with the chief irregularity 
of his conduct. After the unhappy nepotism of Paul 
IV., that ancient and disreputable practice had been 
severely condemned, yet we find it flagrantly and inmie- 
diately revived by Sixtus himself. It was, as we shall 
see, an essential part of his scheme to reform the Col- 
lege of Cardinals, and he would presently enact that 
no one should be raised to the cardinalate imder the 
age of twenty-one, and no man with a son or grandson 
should attain the dignity. Yet within a fortnight of 
his coronation he annoimced that his grand-nephew, 
Alexander Peretti, a boy of thirteen, wotdd be raised to 
the Sacred College, and another young grand-nephew 
was appointed Governor of the Borgo of St. Peter's 
and Captain of the Papal Guard. Their sisters were 
similarly enriched by noble alliances in later years. 
This grave impropriety is not excused by references to 
the ambition and determination of the Pope's sister 
Camilla; indeed, the wealth which that lady now ob- 
tained, and the notoriety with which she invested it 
in Rome, rather increased the Pope's guilt. He was 
assuredly not less strong of will than she. The defect 
shows how deeply rooted the evil was at Rome, when 
so resolute a reformer yields to it within a few years of 
the Protestant convulsion of Europe. 

With this single concession to the older traditions, 
however, Sixtus turned energetically to the work of 
reform. The condition of the Papal States imder 
Gregory XIII. had become scandalous. The leading 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 337 

officials sold the lesser offices to corrupt men, and these 
in turn recovered their money by receiving bribes to 
overtook crime. Brigandage of the most licentious 
character spread over Italy, and even Roman nobles 
supported bands of swordsmen who would with impun- 
ity rid them of an inconvenient husband, force the 
doors of a virtuous woman's house, or relieve the pilgrim 
of his money. A law prohibiting the use of firearms 
had been passed, but it had become the fashion to 
ignore law and police. The picture which Sixtus 
himself gives us in his early Bulls is amazing when we 
recall that, only a few years before, the future of the 
Church had depended in no small measure on the 
morals of Rome and Italy. 

Sixtus had no cause to spare the memory of his pre- 
decessor, and he turned with truculence to the remedy of 
this disorder. Before the end of April he had four 
young men belonging to high Roman families hanged 
on gibbets, like common murderers, for carrying fire- 
arms in spite of the decree. At the Carnival he erected 
two gibbets, one at each end of the Corso, to intimidate 
roysterers from the use of the knife. On April 30th 
he, in his Bull Hoc Nostri, enacted the most drastic 
punishment for brigands and all who should support 
or tolerate them; and on June ist he caused the Roman 
government to put a price on their heads. The nobles 
of Rome, who had included these picturesque criminals 
in their suites, were ordered, under the direst penalties, 
to yield or dismiss them, and even cardinals were 
threatened with imprisonment if they retained ser- 
vants of that character. Such was the amazement of 
Rome that the wits are said to have dressed the statue 
of St. Peter for a journey and put into its mouth the 
reply, when St. Paul was supposed to ask the meaning 


338 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

of his traveUing costiime, that he feared that Sixtus 
was about to prosecute him for cutting off the ear of 
the high-priest's servant. From Rome the terror 
spread throughout the Papal States. Thousands — 
including renegade monks and mothers who prosti- 
tuted their daughters — ^were executed or slain, and the 
bands fled to neutral territory. Thither the merciless 
hand of the Pope pursued them, and a few liberal con- 
cessions to the other Italian Powers induced them to 
fling back the banditti upon the arms of the Papal 
troops or the knives of those who sought blood- 

That Sixtus pursued this very necessary campaign 
with absolute truculence and a disdain of delicacy in 
the use of means cannot be questioned, but, though the 
fact does not adorn his character, we know too weU the 
licentious condition of Italy to waste our sympathy 
on his victims. The most stubborn and audacious 
outlaws fell in a few years before his attack. At 
Bologna, for instance, the Pepoli and the Malvezzi had 
for years sustained one of those terrible feuds which had 
so long disgraced the central State of Christendom. 
They laughed at Papal injimctions. Sixtus had Count 
Pepoli treacherously seized, tried (in his absence) at 
Rome, and decapitated. His followers, and those of 
the Malvezzi, scattered in alarm, and Bologna was not 
merely relieved of oppressive criminals, but was adorned 
with new buildings and enriched with educational in- 
stitutions by the triimiphant Pope. Later, in order 
to extinguish the embers of animosity, he promoted 
one of the Pepoli to the cardinalate. The feuds of the 
Gaetani, the Colonna, and other old families were simi- 
larly trodden out, or healed by marriages with grand- 
nieces of the Pope, and Italy became more sober and 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 339 

more prosperous than it had been for ages. Unhappily, 
the reform died with Sixtus and anarchy retiuned. 

This campaign* occupied a few years, but it had no 
sooner been laimched than Sixtus produced other of 
the plans he had prepared in his secluded palace. I 
have shown how deeply the corruption of the College 
of Cardinals affected the religious history of Europe, 
and Sixtus began very quickly to reform it. It was, 
perhaps, not his misimderstood promise of gratitude 
to the cardinals who had elected him, but some feeling 
of incongruity with his own conduct in promoting his 
boy-nephews, which restrained him for a time. How- 
ever that may be, he turned to the problem in the 
second year of his Pontificate, and his Btdl Postquam 
Verus^ laid down severe rules for the sustained im- 
provement of the College. The ntmiber of cardinals 
was restricted to seventy (as is still the rule); ille- 
gitimates, and men who had sons and grandsons to 
favour, were excluded ; and a cleric must have attained 
an age of at least twenty-two years before he could be 
promoted. In order to distribute and expedite the work 
of administration, he further divided the cardinals 
into fifteen "congregations" (some of which already 
existed), such as those of the Inquisition, of Public 
Works, of the Vatican Press, and so on. 

We can hardly doubt that in this division he had an 
ulterior aim. The earlier procedure had been for the 
Pope to lay a question before the whole body (rf the 
cardinals and discuss it with them. Sixtus continued 
to do this, but the cardinals soon foimd that, although 
he desired discussion, he turned fiery eyes, and even 
showered rough and offensive epithets, on any who 
opposed his plans. He was essentially an autocrat, 

' December 5, 1586. 

340 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

and the impetuosity which was inseparable from so 
robust a character made him an impleasant autocrat. 
The advantage to him of splitting the cardinals into 
small groups was that, on any grave question, he had 
merely to take accoimt of the consultative opinion of 
a few cardinals. His more admiring biographers record 
that he rarely dissented from the conclusions of his 
congregations ; in point of fact, he decided grave issues 
before consulting them, or made his will unmistakably 
clear to them. His own promotions were generally 
sound, though he at times strained his regulations in 
favour of a friend. But he greatly improved the Col- 
lege of Cardinals, and made an admirable effort to 
exclude from it nationalist influences. 

We must not, on the other hand, suppose that these 
congregations of cardinals count in any degree — except 
as the mere executive of his will — in the great work of 
his Pontificate. His own teeming brain and iron will 
are the sole sources of the mighty achievements of 
those five years. He had studied the Papal problem 
on all sides and was prepared at once to remedy a dis- 
order or design a new structure. Agriculture and 
industry were feeble and unprosperous throughout the 
Papal States. Ruinous taxation, lawless oppression, 
and the ease with which one obtained one's bread at 
the innumerable monasteries, had demoralized the 
country and ruined the Papal treasury. Sixtus had 
some of the qualities of an economist — we still possess 
the careful account book he kept in his days of monastic 
authority — and he was especially concerned to nurse 
the Papal income in view of certain grandiose plans 
which he seems to have held in reserve, so that he 
applied himself zealously to this problem. It is generally 
agreed that his work here is a singular compoimd of 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 341 

shrewdness and blundering. By his restoration of pub- 
lic security he lifted a burden from agriculture, and 
he made special efforts to encourage the wooUen in- 
dustry and the silk industry.' He, at great cost, 
brought a good supply of water, from an estate twenty 
miles away, to Rome, and by this means and by the 
cutting of new roads re-established some population on 
the hiUs, which had long been almost deserted. We 
find Camilla speculating profitably in this extension of 
the city, but the more important point is that the 
population of Rome rose in five years from 70,000 to 
100,000: still, however, only one tenth of the population 
of Imperial Rome. The Pope also gave a water-supply 
to Civita Vecchia and drained its marshes; and he 
spent — ^with very little result in this case — 200,000 
ducats in draining the marshes at Terracina, which he 
personally inspected in 1588. 

Yet the admiration which his biographers bestow 
on his finance is misplaced. It seems to have been 
chiefly in his native March of Ancona that he granted 
relief from the heavy taxes and imposts of his prede- 
cessor; the Papal States generally were still ruinously 
taxed, even in the necessaries of life. His hoarding of 
specie, partly for excellent but partly for visionary 
purposes, injured commerce; and such measures as his 
prohibition of the sale of landed property to foreigners 
were short-sighted. The rise of the Papal income, 
which enabled him to store 4,590,000 scudi (about 
8,000,000 dollars) in five years, besides spending large 
sums on public works, was chiefly due to deplorable 
methods. The income from the issue of indulgences 
had now fallen very low — it had not wholly ceased, as 

' Bull Quum Sicut, May 28, 1586. Bull Quum Alias, December 17, 

34^ Crises in the History of the Papacy 

some say, since they are still issued in Spain — and little 
money came from Spain or France. The fixed Papal 
income had fallen to 200,000 scudi a year, and in the 
expenditure of this the friar-pope made an economy of 
140,000 scudi a year by reducing table-charges, dis- 
missing superfluous servants, and (as is often forgotten) 
giving to other servants church-benefices so that they 
needed no salary. The result was still far too small for 
the creation of a fimd, and Sixtus sold honours and 
offices as flagrantly as any Pope had done since Boniface 
IX. He sold positions which had never been sold 
before, and he created new marketable titles. He 
debased the coinage and imposed a tax on money- 
lenders. He carried to a remarkable extent the new 
Papal system of Monti.^ He withdrew offices which 
Gregory XIII. had sold, and transferred them to higher 
bidders; and he must have known how the officials 
would recoup themselves. 

By these means he raised his hoard, which seems to 
have been gathered for some visionary grand campaign 
against the Protestants and the Turks. We at once 
recall Julius II., but it is a comparison which the work 
of Sixtus V. cannot sustain ; he was not so great a ruler 
as Julius, and he fell on less prosperous times. I must 
add, however, that part of his reserve fund was de- 
stined for practical uses. In 1586 famine and Turks 
and pirates caused grave distress in Italy. Sixtus did 
not even then abolish his heavy taxes on the necessaries 

' Recent Popes had established what was, in effect, a system of life 
assurance. A large money-payment secured an income for life out of 
the proceeds of certain taxes. Sixtus multiplied these Monti (as the 
funds were called) in order to obtain a large sum of money at once, and 
he thus mortgaged the resources of the Holy See. Ranke, whose chap- 
ters on Sixtus are amongst his best, heavily censures the Pope's finance. 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 343 

of life and the means of distributing them, but he bought 
100,000 crowns' worth of com in Sicily, fixed the price 
of flour and punished unjust dealers, and set about 
collecting a fund of a milhon scudi to meet such emer- 
gencies. He was not economist enough to see the 
roots of the evil, and fair, fertile Italy continued to 
sufifer under the unhappy Papal system. 

The Pope's tenderness to the Jews was part of his 
crude financial policy. A Portuguese Jew, who had 
fled from the Inquisition, was his chief fiscal adviser, 
and Sixtus interpreted in the most genial manner the 
current teaching of theologians, that, since the Jews 
were irreparably damned on a greater count, they 
might lend money at interest, and the Papacy might 
tax their wealth. Baron Huebner, in a moment of 
unusual candour, corrects some of the less discriminat- 
ing biographers :V6ixtus, he says, "protected the Jews 
in order to exploit them."* Pius V. had expelled the 
Jews from all parts of the Papal States except Rome 
and the March of Ancona, and Sixtus, by his constitu- 
tion HebrcBorum Gens, cancelled the restriction and 
ordered Christians to treat the Jews and their syna- 
gogues with respect. We feel that interest led Sixtus 
on to a more human feeling. He dispensed the tmhappy 
Jews from wearing the odious yellow dress which Chris- 
tian princes and prelates imposed on them, and for a 
few years, in that one comer of Europe, they enjoyed 
the life of himian beings. 

Sixtus was less lenient to the Jesuits than to the Jews. 
The primitive fervour of the Society was already 
dimmed by prosperity or perverted by casuistry, and 
complaints came to Rome from all parts. Having been a 
Franciscan monk, Sixtus was not well disposed toward 

' I.» 349. 

344 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the new congregation, which had arotised the hostility 
of the older religiotis bodies. He used to observe, in 
his grim, meditative way: "Who are these men who 
make us bow our heads at the mention of their name?" 
He referred to the Catholic practice of inclining the 
head at the mention of the name of Jesus, but he dis- 
liked the whole constitution of the Society and resented 
the privileges it had won from his predecessors. A pro- 
longed quarrel of the worldly and degenerate Jesuits 
of Spain with General Acquaviva gave him an oppor- 
timity to intervene, and he ordered an inquiry into 
their rules. In 1590 he annoimced that he would alter 
the name and the constitutions of the Society. Ac- 
quaviva stirred such Catholic monarchs as were docile 
to his brethren to petition the Pope in their favour, 
but Sixtus was not prepared to listen to the suggestions, 
in ecclesiastical affairs, of worldly princes. Acquaviva 
then persuaded Cardinal Carafa, to whom the inquiry 
had been entrusted, to prolong his inquiry, and it be- 
came a race between the failing energy of the Pope and 
the intrigues of the Jesuits. Rome witnessed the 
contest with the interest it had once bestowed on the 
chariot-races of the Blues and the Greens. The inquiry 
was transferred to other prelates, and, when these also 
were suborned, Sixtus peremptorily ordered Acquaviva 
to request that the name of the Society should be 
changed. The petition was reluctantly made, the 
Bull authorizing the change of name was drafted and 
— Sixtus V. died before he put his name to it. In the 
circumstances it was inevitably whispered that Jesuit 
poison had ended the Pope's life, but the legend was as 
superfluous as it was familiar. ' 

The rest of the Pope's administrative work must be 

« See the author's Candid History of the Jesuits (1913), pp. 110-113. 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 345 

briefly recorded before we pass to the consideration of 
his political activity. He attempted to restrict the 
prodigality of the Romans in dress, food, ftmeral and 
wedding expenses, etc., but this sumptuary legislation* 
was not enforced. He fotmd general and disgraceful 
laxity in the convents of ntms, and enacted a death- 
penalty against offenders: the same penalty he, with 
his habitual truculence, imposed for cheating at cards 
or dice. He directed the police to cleanse Rome of 
prostitutes and astrologers, reformed the prisons,' 
made provision for widows and orphans, pressed the 
redemption of captives,^ and constructed ten galleys 
for the defence of the Italian coast against the Turks 
and pirates. He cleared of debt the Roman University 
(Sapienza) and restored it to its full activity. He 
engaged Fontana to crown St. Peter's with its long- 
deferred cupola, and threw such energy into the work 
that he almost completed in twenty-two months a task 
which the builders expected to occupy ten years. He, 
with equal vigour, set up the obelisks in front of St. 
Peter's, reconstructed the Lateran Palace in part, and 
restored the coliunns of Trajan and Antoninus ; though, 
in a naive desire to express the tritmiph of Christianity 
over Paganism, he put statues of Peter and Paul on 
the ancient Roman pedestals. ^ He also set up a press 
in the Vatican Library, which he restored and decorated, 

* Bull Cum Unoguoque, January i, 1586. 

• Bull Qug(B Ordini, 1589. « Bull Cum Benigno, 1585. 
4 This edifying mood of the Pope might have been fatal to the ancient 

Roman remains if he had enjoyed a lengthy Pontificate. When the 
cardinals timidly curbed his iconoclasm, he replied that he would de- 
stroy the uglier of the pagan monuments and restore the remainder. 
Among these "uglier** monuments were the Septizonium of Severus, the 
surviving part of which he actually demolished, and the tomb of Csecilia 

346 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

and from this he issued the Latin version of the Bible 
which the Council of Trent had ordered, as well as the 
works of St. Ambrose and St. Bonaventure. 

The magnitude of this domestic program and the 
vigour of the sexagenarian Pope are enhanced when 
we further learn that his brief Pontificate was, as usual, 
occupied with grave political problems. With Ger- 
man aflFairs the Papacy had now little concern, but we 
must record that Sixtus permitted some of the Catholic 
bishops to allow the laity to communicate in both kinds. 
To England he devoted more attention, though his 
violent and imdiplomatic methods only made worse the 
position of the Catholics in that cotmtry. Mary 
Stuart contrived to write to him, after she had been 
condemned, and he spoke of Elizabeth to the cardinals 
as "the English Jezabel." He urged Henry III. to 
intercede for Mary and himself wrote a defence of her. 
When she was executed, he spurred Philip I. in his 
designs against England and promised him 500,000 
florins when his fleet reached England and a further 
half million when the Spaniards occupied London. 
When an English spy was detected at Rome, Sixtus 
ordered his tongue to be cut out and his hand struck 
off before he was beheaded. In defiance of his own 
decree he bestowed the cardinalate on WilHam Allen, 
and he directed Allen to translate (for distribution in 
England) the Bull in which he enumerated the dark 
crimes of Elizabeth, renewed the sentence of excom- 
mtmication against her, and declared her subjects re- 
leased from their allegiance. These measures, which 
only increased the sufferings of the Catholics, betray 
again the limitation of the Pope's vigorous intelligence, 
and, when the Armada sank, he ttimed from Spain to 
France and realized the futility of his policy. 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 347 

The chief political problem was, however, the atti- 
tude of Rome toward the rival Catholic Powers, Spain 
and France, and the less important action of Sixtus 
in Venice (which, as a bulwark against the Protestant 
north, he sought, in spite of his old grievances, to con- 
ciliate). Savoy (where he compelled the Duke to re- 
frain from appointing bishops), Besangon (where he 
forced upon the reluctant chapter a friar-friend whom 
he had made Archbishop), Belgitmi (where he demanded 
a truce between the University and the Jesuits), and 
Switzerland (where he attempted in vain to restrain 
the secular authorities), need not be considered at 
length. The French problem, complicated by the 
ambition of Spain, might have given anxious hours to 
a more astute statesman than Sixtus, and we shall 
hardly expect a man with so little subtlety to reach a 
distinguished solution of it. 

The ineptness of Catherine de' Medici and the folly 
and profligacy of her diseased son, Henry III., had 
brought France to a dangerous pass. Henry of Guise 
coveted the throne, under a pretence of zeal for the 
Church: Henry of Navarre grimly awaited his natural 
succession to it: and Philip of Spain dreamed of annex- 
ing France, as well as England, to his swollen dominion. 
The Spanish representative at Rome, Cotmt Olivarez, 
who nourished a secret disdain of the peasant-Pope, 
urged Sixtus to eliminate Henry of Navarre from the 
competition by exconmitmication, for having relapsed 
to the Protestant creed, and, on September 5, 1585, 
Sixtus issued against him and the Prince of Cond6 
the Bull Ab Immenso. Henry of Navarre retorted 
cheerfully that the Pope was himself a heretic, and 
Henry IH. angrily drove the Pope's new Nimcio from 
France; to which Sixtus retorted by expelUng from 

348 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Rome Henry's representative, the Marquis Pisani. To 
the great delight of Philip and the Catholic League, 
Henry III., feeble and distracted, humbly submitted, 
and was compelled to put pressure on the remaining 
Protestants. Sixtus, in fact, promised Henry a Span- 
ish army from the Netherlands to assist- in coercing 
the Huguenots, and urged him to co-operate with 
Philip and with the League (under Guise). In his 
exclusive, and entirely natural, concern for the ortho- 
doxy of the country, Sixtus failed to tmderstand in any 
degree its peculiar political condition or the utterly^ 
selfish designs of Guise and of PhiUp. He was impelling 
the coimtry toward civil war. 

In 1587 the Germans invaded France, and Henry of 
Navarre in turn confronted the troops of the League. 
Some small initial victories of the League led the Pope 
to congratulate the Duke of Guise in the most extrava- 
gant language, and it was only the fear of exasperating 
Philip that restrained him from bestowing on the Duke's 
son the hand of one of his grand-nieces. One cannot 
suppose that Sixtus failed to see that Guise had ambi- 
tion, but he showed little penetration of character in 
admonishing the Duke to recover Paris for Henry HI. 
and to assist that monarch to set up the Inquisition in 
France and exterminate heresy. The Nuncio's letters 
show that he was, imder the Pope's instructions, ab- 
sorbed in a futile effort to reconcile the Duke and 
the King, and it is said that Sixtus angrily advised the 
effeminate monarch either to make a friend of Guise 
or to destroy him. Even Henry III. showed more 
appreciation of the political situation. 

Sixtus turned impatiently toward Spain and encour- 
aged the designs of Philip. On July 15, 1588, he 
signed a treaty with the League and Spain, and the new 

Sixtus V. and the New Church 349 

alliance promised the complete eradication of heresy 
from France. The failure of the Armada and the 
Pope's habitual distrust of Philip clouded the alliance 
for a time, but Henry III. was not willing to accept the 
Pope's terms for a transfer of his affections. Sixtus was 
especially eager to have the decrees of the Coimcil of 
Trent published in France. To this the Gallican clergy 
objected, and Henry himself declared that he would 
publish them only "sal vis juribus regis et regni 
a phrase which Sixtus, to use his own words, ''cursed. 
Even when, to the Pope's extreme anger, Henry had 
the Duke and the Cardinal of Guise assassinated, Sixtus 
remained too irresolute to derive advantage from the 
icing's remorse or apprehension, though the Spaniards 
and the League gained ground at Rome. Henry 
in., indeed, entered into alliance with the Protestant 
Henry against the League, and Sixtus was content 
to issue a fresh threat of excommunication against the 

But the assassination of the King in August (1589) 
simplified the situation, and Sixtus definitely allied 
himself with Spain and the League against Henry IV. : 
a very natural, but equally impolitic, decision. Venice 
recognized Henry, and the Pope at first recalled his 
Ntmcio from Venice and then, hearing the success of 
the new King, ordered him to return. Sixtus was 
beginning to appreciate the situation, and, when the 
Duke of Luxemburg came to Rome to tell of Henry's 
willingness to reconsider his religious position, he was 
amiably received. The Spaniards made a last violent 
struggle, and even threatened to arraign the Pope for 
heresy before a General Cotmcil, but Sixtus now saw 
his way clearly. Throughout the year 1590 he braved 
the threats of the Spaniards and watched the progress 

350 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

of Henry IV., but the struggle against Spaniards and 
Jesuits was too exacting for a man of his years and he 
succumbed to fever on August 24th. 

Sixtus must unhesitatingly be included among the 
great Popes, but it is perplexing to read, as one often 
does, that he was "one of the greatest of the Popes/* 
The work he accomplished in five years is far greater 
than most of the Popes achieved, or would have 
achieved, in twenty years, and at least the greater part 
of his reform-work in Rome and Italy was of consider- 
able value. Yet even here we must not overlook his 
defects: he transgressed his own regulations when he 
would gratify his aflFections, he enforced reforms with 
harshness and violence, and he greatly lessened the value 
of his economic work by hoarding a vast sum for the 
purpose (apparently) of conducting a visionary grand 
campaign against Turks and heretics. His political 
attitude was, as I have shown, injudicious and irreso- 
lute. Both in character and statesmanship he falls 
far short of the greater Popes, and it is, perhaps, some 
indication of the evil plight of the Church that Sixtus 
V. should be the ablest man it could produce in a cen- 
tury of grave and persistent danger. 



THE seventeen Popes who occupied the Vatican 
between Sixtiis V. and Benedict XIV. do not call 
for individual notice. With common integrity of life 
and general mediocrity of intelligence they guarded and 
administered their lessened inheritance. A few frag- 
ments of the lost provinces were regained — ^Ferrara 
and Urbino were reunited to the Papal States, and 
Protestantism was crushed in southern Germany and 
Poland — ^but the general situation was unchanged. 
The Papal conception of European life, the conviction 
that heresy must and would be only a temporary diver- 
sion of the minds of men, was definitely overthrown, 
and the Church of Rome became one of various flourish- 
ing branches of the Christian Church. The interest of 
the historian passes from the personalities of the Popes 
to the movements of thought which herald or prepare 
the next great revolution. 

In regard to that specific development of 'European 
thought which we call the birth of science we are, per- 
haps, apt to misread its earlier stages because we find 
it in its final stage so destructive of old traditions. The 
Popes of the seventeenth century are too much flat- 
tered when they are credited with a distinct perception 
of the menace of science and a resolute opposition to 


352 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

it. Properly speaking, they had no attitude toward 
'* science, " but, as the history of science and the fortune 
of such men as Giordano Bruno, Galilei, and Vesalius 
show, they resented and hampered departures from the 
stock of traditional learning.' On the other hand, 
the period we are considering was marked by the 
phenomenal material success and the moral degenera- 
tion of the greatest force the Counter-Reformation had 
produced — the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits did far 
more than the Papacy to arrest the advance of Pro- 
testantism and to conquer new lands for the Church, 
but the diplomatic principles inherited from their 
founder and the desperate exigencies of a stubborn war 
led them into a pernicious casuistry, while prosperity 
led to such relaxation as it had produced in the old 
religious bodies. In politics the new age was charac- 
terized by the decay of Spain and ''the Empire," and 
the rise of France, and the increased power of France 
led to a revival of the old Gallic defiance, within ortho- 
dox limits, of the Papacy, culminating in the famous 
''Declaration of the Gallican Clergy" (1682), and to 
the powerful lay movements which gathered round 
Pascal and the Jansenists or Voltaire and the phi- 
losophers. Benedict XIV. mounted the Papal throne 
in the height of these developments, and his attitude of 

' Modem research has easily settled that Galilei was not physically 
ill-treated, and that there was probably no intention to carry out the 
formal threat of torture. But this refutation of the excesses of the 
older anti-Papal historians leaves the serious part of the indictment 
intact. Galilei was forbidden by the Holy Office in 161 6 to advance as a 
positive discovery his view of the earth's position. In 1632, to the 
great indignation of Urban VIII., he disregarded this prohibition, which 
he thought a dead letter, and was condemned by the Inquisition as 
"vehemently suspected of heresy." The crime against culture is not 
materially lessened by the fact that the Inquisition lodged the astrono- 
mer in its most comfortable rooms. 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 353 

compromise makes him one of the most singular and 
interesting Popes of the new era. 

Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini was bom at Bologna, 
of good family, on March 31, 1675. At the age of 
thirteen he entered the Clementine College at Rome, 
and with the advance of years he became a very indus- 
trious student of law — canon and civil — ^and history. 
He took degrees in theology and law, and was incor- 
porated in the Roman system as Consultor to the Holy 
Office, Canon of St. Peter's, and Prelate of the Roman 
Court. Successive Popes made the indefatigable 
scholar Archbishop of Theodosia in partibus. Archbishop 
of Ancona and Cardinal (1728), and Archbishop of 
Bologna (1731). Lambertini was a rare type of prelate. 
He did not, as so many high-bom prelates did, relieve 
the tedium of the clerical estate with the himt, the 
banquet, and the mistress. His episcopal duties were 
discharged with the most rigorous fidelity, his clergy 
were sedulously exhorted to cultivate learning and 
virtue, and his leisure was devoted to the composition 
of erudite treatises on The Beatification of the Servants 
oj Gody The Sacrifice of the Mass, The Festivals of Our 
Lord Jesus Christ, and Canonical Questions. Yet the 
Cardinal-Archbishop was no ascetic in spirit, and there 
was much gossip about his conversation. He loved 
Tasso and Ariosto as much as juridical writings. He 
liked witty society, and his good stories circulated 
beyond the little group of his scholarly friends. Presi- 
dent de Brosses visited him at Bologna in 1739, the 
year before he became Pope, and wrote of him: 

A good fellow, without any airs, who told us some very 
good stories about women (filles) or about the Roman court. 
I took care to commit some of them to memory and will find 

354 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

them useful. He especially liked to tell or to hear stories 
about the Regent and his confidant Cardinal Dubois. He 
used to say, ''Tell me something about this Cardinal del 
Bosco." I ransacked my memory, and told him all the 
tales I knew. His conversation is very pleasant: he is a 
clever man, full of gaiety and well read. In his speech he 
makes use of certain expletive particles which are not 
cardinalitial. In that and other things he is like Cardinal 
Camus; for he is otherwise irreproachable in conduct, very 
charitable, and very devoted to his archiepiscopal duties. 
But the first and most essential of his duties is to go three 
times a week to the Opera.* 

Lambertini's liberty and joviality of speech did not, 
in spite of his strict virtue and most zealous adminis- 
tration, conmiend him to the more severe cardinals, 
and when Clement XII. died, on February 6, 1740, 
he was not regarded as a candidate for the Papacy. 
But the struggle of French, Spanish, and Austrian 
partisans continued for six months without prospect of 
a settlement, and in the intolerable heat of the sunmier 
the cardinals cast about, as usual, for an outsider. 
Lambertini had humorously recommended himself 
from time to time. He used to say. President de 
Brosses reports: ** If you want a good fellow [coglione — 
a particularly gross word] choose me. "^ The Emperor 

^ Lettres JamUihres (1858), i., 250-1. The President was in Rome 
during the conclave in the following year and repeated that Lambertini 
was "licentious in speech but exemplary in conduct" (ii., 399). On a 
later page (439) he frankly describes the Pope as "indecent in speech." 
There is a passage in one of the Pope's later letters to Cardinal Tencin 
which may illustrate his censure. Benedict tells the Cardinal that he 
has bought a nude Venus for his collection, and finds that the Prince and 
Princess of Wurttemberg have, with a diamond ring, scratched their 
names on a part of the statue which one may not particularize as plainly 
as the Pope does (Correspondance de Benott XIV., ii., 268). 

■ LeUres familihes, u., 439. 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 355 

Joseph II., who did not want an inflexible Pope, sup- 
ported his candidature, and he was assuredly the most 
distinguished of the cardinals to whom the wearied 
voters now looked. He was elected on August 17th, 
and he took the name of Benedict XIV. 

He was now sixty-five years old : a round, full-faced, 
merry little man, with piercing small eyes and an 
obstinate resolution to live at peace with the world. 
A few years later,* he describes his daily life to his 
firiend Cardinal Tencin. He rises early and takes a cup 
of chocolate and a crust. At midday he has a soup, an 
entr6e, a roast, and a pear: on "fast" days he reduces 
himself to a pot-au-feu and a pear, but it does not agree 
with him to observe the law of abstinence from meat, 
and he advises the cardinals to follow his example. In 
the evening he takes only a glass of water with a little 
cinnamon, and he retires very late. He works hard all 
day and feels that he is justified in seeking relief in 
sprightly conversation. Indeed, when one surveys the 
vast published series of Benedict's Bulls (some of which 
are lengthy and severe treatises), rescripts, works, and 
letters, one realizes that his industry was phenomenal. 
When he had to condemn some voltune of the new 
sceptical literature which was springing up in Europe, 
he read it himself three times and reflected long on it. 
His interest ranged from England, whose political 
affairs he followed closely, to the mountains of Syria 
and the missions of China. Every branch of Papal 
administration had his personal attention. He thought 
little of the cardinals, and often pours genial irony 
on them in his innimierable letters. Of his two prede- 
cessors, Benedict XIII. "had not the least idea of 
government," and Clement XII. "passed his life in 

> September 29, 1745. 

356 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

conversation, " and "it is with the oxen from this stable 
[the cardinals promoted by them] that we have to work 
today. "^ In finance, politics, administration, liturgy^ 
and all other respects he had inherited a formidable task, 
and he discharged it in such wise that he died at peace 
with all except his Roman reactionaries. The Catholic 
rulers deeply appreciated him. Frederick of Prussia 
had a genial regard for him. Horace Walpole celebrated 
his virtues in Latin verse, and one of the Pitts treasured 
a bust of him. Voltaire, through Cardinal Acquaviva, 
presented his Mahomet to him in 1746, and the amiable 
Pope, quite innocent of the satire on Christianity, wrote 
to tell Voltaire how he had successfully defended his 
Latin verses. ^ 

« Letter to Tencin August i, 1753 (ii., 282). 

' The correspondence is reproduced in Artaud de Montor's Histoire des 
Souverains Pontifes (1849), vii., 79. Benedict was severely censured by 
the pious, and he declared to Cardinal Tencin that he "did not find it 
clear that Voltaire was a stranger to the faith *' (i., 246). The biography 
of Benedict, one of the most interesting of the Popes, is still to be written. 
F. X. Kraus, in his edition of Benedict's letters, reproduces fragments of 
a pretentious Latin biography by a contemporary, Scarselli, and M. 
Guamacci has a sketch in his VitcB Pontificum Romanorum (1751, vol. 
ii., col. 487-94). These relate only to his earlier years. A. Sandini 
{ViUE Pontificum Romanorum ^ 1754) has only three pages on Benedict, 
and the anonymous Vie du Pape Benoit XIV. (1783 — really written by 
Cardinal Caraccioli) is not critical. The biographical sketches in 
Artaud de Montor and Ranke are quite inadequate. But the biographer 
has now a rich material in Benedict's Bulls (complete BuUarium, 13 
vols., 1826 and 1827), works (chief edition, 17 vols., 1839- 1846, and 
three further works edited by Heiner in 1904), and letters. Of the 
latter the best editions are those of F. X. Kraus (Brief e Benedicts XIV, 
an den Canonicus Pier Francesco Peggi, 1884), Morani ("Lettere di 
Benedetto XIV. all* arddiacono Innocenzo Storani" in the Archioio 
Storico per le Marche e per VUmhria, 1885), Fresco ("Lettere inedite di 
Benedetto XIV. al Cardinale Angelo Maria Querini" in the Nuavo 
Archivio Veneto, 1909, tomo xviii., pp. 5-93, and xix, pp. 159-215), 
** Lettere inedite di Benedetto XI V. al Cardinale F. Tamburini" in ttie 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 357 

Benedict's immediate predecessor, Clement XII., 
an elderly disciplinarian whose strength was not equal 
to his pretensions, had left the internal and foreign 
aflFairs of the Quirinal — the Popes now dwelt chieifly 
in that palace — in a condition of strain and disorder, 
nor was Benedict's Secretary of State, Cardinal Valenti, 
the man to relieve the Pope of the work of refonn. 
Choiseul, who was then the French representative at 
Rome, describes Valenti as very able but very lazy: 
a man of great charm, especially to ladies, and easy 
morals. Yet the treastiry was empty, and the finances 
were shockingly disorganized. Although Clement XII. 
had introduced the lottery to support his extravagant 
expenditure, the Papal income in 1739 fell short of the 
expenses by 200,000 crowns a year, and the Camera 
owed between fifty and sixty million crowns — President 
de Brasses says 380,000,000 francs — to the Monti, or 
funds out of which the Popes paid life-incomes. Smug- 
gling was so general, even among ambassadors and 
cardinals, that half the Papal revenue was lost. Car- 
dinals Acquaviva and Albani each granted immunity 
from excise to four thousand traders: so Benedict wrote 
to Tencin in 1743. A third of the population of Rome 
consisted of ecclesiastics who lived on the Papal system, 
and a third were foreigners of no greater financial value ; 
while the natives could so easily obtain food at the 
innumerable monasteries, or by begging, that there was 
little incentive to industry. 

Benedict XIV. had no financial capacity, but the 
desperate and ever worsening condition of the treasury 
spurred him to work. He restricted the immunities 

Archivio delta R. Socieid Romana di Storia P atria, vol. xxxiv. (191 1), 
pp. 35-73, and £. de Heeckeren (Correspondancede BenoUXIV., 2 vols., 

358 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

from excise, cut down the extravagant payment of the 
troops, and severely curtailed the nimiber of his ser- 
vants. In a few years he had a surplus, which he 
divided among the impoverished nobles. He then 
reduced the taxes, had new factories built, and encour- 
aged the introduction of new methods into agriculture. 
His zeal in suppressing "usury" was not so fortxmate, 
but he restored the Papal finances to such a degree that 
he could at length indulge his cultural tastes. Sandini 
gives a list of the montunents he restored at Rome — in- 
cluding the new fajade with which he disfigured Sta. 
Maria Maggiore — ^and we know from his letters that he 
was assiduous in collecting classical statues and fine 
books for the Roman galleries and libraries. He 
foimded four academies at Rome — for the study of 
Roman history and antiquities. Christian history and 
antiquities, the history of the Councils, and liturgy — 
and once in each week presided, at the Quirinal, over a 
sitting of each academy. To the Roman imiversity 
(Sapienza) he added chairs of chemistry, mathematics, 
and art, and he pressed in every way the higher educa- 
tion of the clergy. In 1750 he appointed a woman 
teacher, Maria Gaetana d'Agnesi, of mathematics at 
Bologna University, and wrote her a gracious letter 
commending the ambition of her sex. 

Jansenists and philosophers were now fiercely expos- 
ing the weaknesses of Papal culture, and Benedict, who 
freely criticized the errors of his predecessors, attempted 
some revision of the mass of legends which had been 
accepted by the Church. In 1741 he appointed a 
commission to revise the Breviary, but the extensive 
alterations they proposed to make in the Uves of the 
saints alarmed the reactionaries. On April 26, 1743, 
we find Benedict wearily complaining to Tencin of the 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 359 

diflBculty of reform: "There is now all over the world 
such a disdain of the Holy See that — I will not say the 
protest of a bishop, a city, or a nation — ^but the opposi- 
tion of a single monk is enough to thwart the most 
salutary and most pious designs. " ' The French clergy 
had been compelled in 1680 and 1736 to issue more 
critical editions of the Breviary, and Benedict wished 
to provide one for the universal Church. But the 
bigots were too strong for the Pope and the scheme of 
reform lies in the dust of the Vatican archives, while 
the Roman Breviary still contains legends of the most 
remarkable character. In^ reforming the Martyrology 
(1748) the Pope was more successful, and he published 
a new Ceremonial for Bishops (1752). He also pub- 
lished an indult permitting any diocese that cared to 
reduce the number of Church-festivals. The nimiber 
of days on which men rested from work had become a 
scandal, and many complaints had reached the Holy 
See. Benedict's indult was gradually adopted by entire 

Of far greater interest is Benedict's attitude toward 
what we may call foreign affairs, and in this we discover 
again the more genial side of his character. Those who 
had known the different aspects of the Pope's person- 
ality — ^the punctilious learning of the ecclesiastic and 
the bonhomie of the man — ^must have wondered how he 
would confront the hereditary problems of the Papacy, 
Benedict at once made it plain that his policy would be 
one of deliberate and judicious compromise. Anxiotis 
though he was, especially in view of the Italian ambi- 
tions of Maria Theresa, about his temporal possessions, 
he placed his spiritual power and responsibility in the 
foregroxmd, and on temporal matters he made more 

360 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

concessions than any Pope of equal wit and will had 
ever made. He was, he told Tencin, "the mortal 
enemy of secrets and useless mysticism." For disguised 
Jesuits and intriguing Nuncii he had no employment. 
He took court after court, with which his predecessor 
had embroiled the Papacy, and came to an agree- 
ment which almost invariably satisfied them ; and in the 
war of the Spanish succession, when Spanish and Aus- 
trian troops in turn violated his territory, he remained 
strictly neutral. 

The chief problem in France was the conflict of the 
Jesuits and the Jansenists, which was complicated by 
a revival of the Gallican spirit that put diflficulties in 
the way of Papal interference. The Bull Unigenitus^ 
with which Clement XI. had sought to extinguish the 
controversy, had increased the disorder, and the zealots 
pressed the Pope to intervene. Parlement would have 
resented his interference, and it was not until 1755, when 
the Assembly of the Clergy failed to find a solution, that 
Louis XV. asked the Pope to make a further declara- 
tion. The credit of his moderate Encyclical' is not 
wholly due to him. The French asked him to refrain 
from pressing the Unigenitus as a standard of faith and 
merely to demand external respect for it. This agreed 
with the Pope's moderate disposition, but the Jesuits 
and other zealots at Rome were enraged, and Choiseul — 
without Benedict's knowledge, of course — ^made exten- 
sive use of bribery to win the College of Cardinals. 
Benedict's letters reflect his weariness between the 
antagonistic parties and frequently express that he is 

* Ex omnibus Christiani orbis, Oct. 16, 1756. It prescribes silence on 
the disputed issues and leaves it to confessors to determine whether 
their penitents are so wilfully rebellious against the Bull Unigenttus as 
to be excluded from the sacraments. 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 361 

willing to respect Gallican susceptibilities to any extent 
short of a surrender of the faith. A draft of the Encycli- 
cal was submitted to the French court before it was 
published. Both the Jesuits and the lawyers attacked it, 
but the Parlement was won to the King by an attempt 
on his life and the Jesuits soon foxmd all their energy 
needed to defend their existence. 

With Spain the Pope concluded one of the most 
remarkable Concordats in Papal history. There had 
gradually been established a custom by which the 
Papacy appointed to all benefices which fell vacant 
during eight months of the year, and the bishops and 
their chapters appointed to vacant benefices during the 
remaining third of the year. The court had the right 
of appointment only to benefices in Granada and the 
Indies. As a natural result, Spanish ecclesiastics 
crowded to Rome, and it was estimated that the Dataria 
derived from them about 250,000 crowns a year. Spain 
resented the arrangement, but the clerical population 
of Rome clung tenaciously to it. Benedict in 175 1 
entered into secret negotiations with Spain, and con- 
trived to keep them secret until 1753, when he startled 
and irritated Rome by publishing his famous Concordat, 
By this he granted the Spanish King the right to nomi- 
nate to all except fifty-two benefices in Spain and Amer- 
ica. The cardinals bitterly complained that they had 
not been consulted, while the officials deplored the 
abandonment of Papal prestige and the cessation of so 
much profitable employment. Benedict had, however, 
made a shrewd bargain with Ferdinand VI. The King 
had to pay a capital simi of 1,143,330 crowns, which, at 
an interest of three per cent., would cover the yearly 
loss to the Curia. At a later date the Pope released 
the Spanish Infanta from the dignity of cardinal, yet 

362 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

permitted him to retain a large part of his clerical 

A similar agreement ended the long friction with 
Portugal and (in 1740) gave John V. the right to present 
to all the episcopal sees and abbeys in his dominions; 
and in 1748 the Pope further gratified the King with the 
title of Fidelissimus. The King of Sardinia received, 
soon after Benedict's succession, the title of Vicar of all 
the Papal fiefs in his dominions and the right, for an 
annual payment of 2000 crowns, to gather their reve- 
nues. Naples, in turn, was pacified, after many years 
of dangerous friction. There had been stem quarrels 
about jurisdiction over the clergy, and by a Concordat 
of the year 1741 Benedict consented to the creation of a 
supreme court, with an equal number of clerical and lay 
judges and an ecclesiastical president, for the trial of 
such cases. With Venice the Pope was less successful. 
The decaying Republic had a standing quarrel with 
Austria about the patriarchate of Aquileia; Austria, 
which possessed part of the territory, would not ac- 
knowledge the authority of the Venetian patriarch. 
Benedict appointed a Vicar for the Austrian section, and 
Venice, ever ready to flout Papal orders, drove the 
Nuncio from the city. The Pope thereupon divided the 
province into two archbishoprics, but Venice still an- 
grily protested and the dispute remained tmsettled at 
Benedict's death. 

Austria gave the Pope his most anxious hours. The 
joy of Rome at the fideUty of southern Germany was in 
the eighteenth century clouded by the growth of a 
spirit akin to Gallicanism: the spirit which would 
presently be known as Febronianism. Charles VI. 
had in 1740 left the Empire to his elder daughter, 
Maria Theresa, and Spain had contested the succession 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 363 

in the hope of winning for itself the provinces of Lom- 
bardy and Tuscany. In the war which followed 
Benedict took no side, but the conflicting armies devas- 
tated his territory and approached very near to Rome, 
His letters to Tencin reflect his distress and anxiety, 
no less than his helplessness. When the war was over, 
he sent a representative to the conference at Aix-la- 
Chapelle, where his rights were endangered by the 
contest of the two ambitious queens; Elizabeth of 
Spain was the last of the Famese and was disposed to 
claim for her son the principality which Paul III. had 
wantonly conferred on his son Pier Luigi. The chief 
question that interested the Papacy was whether Don 
Philip should receive the investiture of Parma and 
Piacenza from Rome or the Empress, and Benedict had 
the satisfaction of seeing it virtually settled in favour 
of Rome. On Paul III. himself, and other nepotist 
Popes, Benedict passes a very severe judgment in his 
letters. For his part he severely excluded his relatives 
from Rome, and when a yoimg son of his nephew came 
to study at the Clementine College, he took care that 
the boy should receive no particular favour. 

It is one of the remarkable features of Benedict's 
Pontificate that he won considerable respect even in the 
Protestant lands. Englishmen, perhaps, did not know, 
as we know from the Pope's letters, how deeply he 
sympathized with the exiled Stuarts. "James III." 
lived for some time at Rome on a pension provided by 
France, Spain, and the Papacy, and Benedict had often 
to relieve the financial embarrassment of the foolish 
and extravagant prince. His second son became 
Cardinal York, and, in conferring the dignity on him^ 
Benedict declared that he would be pleased to withdraw 
it if ever Providence recalled him to the throne of his 

364 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

fathers. In spite of these amiable sympathies, Benedict 
was much appreciated by cultivated Englishmen, and 
in 1753 he reconstituted and enlarged the English 

With Frederic of Prussia, also, he had friendly 
relations. He was the first Pope to recognize the title 
of " King of Prussia" assumed in 1701 by the Electors of 
Brandenburg, and in this again he overruled the opposi- 
tion of the cardinals. In 1744 Frederic begged the Pope 
to make Scatfgoch, a Breslau canon whom the King 
liked, coadjutor to the Bishop of Breslau. Scatfgoch 
talked with scandalous license about religion and morals; 
it was said at Rome that he dipped his crucifix into 
his wine to give the Saviour the first drink. Benedict, 
to Frederic's anger, refused ; but three years later, when 
the bishop died, and the Nuncio reported the conversion 
of the canon, the Pope gratified Frederic by making him 
bishop. Frederic permitted the erection of a Catholic 
chapel at Berlin. 

The new Catholic world beyond the seas made more 
than one claim on the untiring Pope. Immediately 
after his election we find him sending a Vicar Apostolic 
to settle the troubles of the Maronites of Syria, and in 
1744 h^ reconciled and regulated the affairs of the 
Greek Melchites of Antioch. In the farther East a 
fierce controversy still raged, both in China and India, 
regarding the heathen rites and practices which the 
Jesuit missionaries permitted their native converts to 
retain. Clement XI., Innocent XIII., and Benedict 
XIII. had successively employed him, when he was an 
official of the Curia, to prepare a verdict on these 
''Chinese and Malabar rites," but it was reported that 
the Jesuits still defied the orders of the Popes. In his 
private letters to Tencin, Benedict sternly condemns the 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 365 

"tergiversations" of the Jestiit missionaries, but in his 
Papal pronouncements he is more cautious. His Bulls 
Ex Quo Singidari, " which puts an end to the trouble in 
China, and Omnium Solicitudinum,^ which condemns 
the practices in Malabar (India), are scholariy and 
severe treatises. They hardly mention the Jesuits, 
but they leave no loophole for those casuistic mission- 
aries. From the other side of the globe Benedict re- 
ceived complaints that Christians were still enslaving 
the American natives, on the pretext of converting 
them, and he renewed the prohibition issued by Paul 
III. and Urban VIII. 

From all quarters of the globe Benedict received 
heated complaints about the Jesuits. They permitted 
the worship of ancestors in China, and closed their eyes 
to Hindu charms and amulets in India. They con- 
ducted great commercial enterprises in North and 
South America, and struggled bitterly against the 
bishops in England. France accused them of intensify- 
ing the domestic strife of its Church, and Spain and 
Portugal brought grave charges against them. But 
Benedict XIV. seems to have dreaded the overweening 
and doomed Society. Even his private letters are 
singularly free from direct allusions to them, and more 
than one Jesuit scholar was employed by him on tasks of 
importance. His friend Cardinal Passionei, a worldly 
cardinal, of easy ways, who spent his days in luxurious 
ease at Frascati, often urged him to reform the Society, 
but it was not xmtil the last year of his life that he took 
any step in that direction. Portugal was now approach- 
ing its great struggle with the Jesuits, and Benedict, 
on April i, 1758, directed Cardinal Saldanha to 
inspect and report upon the condition of the Jesuit 

* July I, 1742. 'September 12, 1744. 

366 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

hoiises and colleges in that coxmtry. He died a month 
later, unconscious of the great revolution which the 
Catholic Powers were preparing to force on the Papacy. 

Of the isolated ecclesiastical acts of Benedict it is 
impossible to give here even a summary. No Pope 
since the great Pontiffs of the early Middle Ages had 
enriched his Church with so much (from the Papal 
point of view) soxmd legislation: none had had so 
scientific a command of ecclesiastical affairs or xmited 
with it so indefatigable an industry. His Bull MagtuB 
Nobis Admirationis^ prescribes, in the case of mixed 
marriages, the rules which are enforced in the Church 
today. He forbade monks to practise surgery or dis- 
pense drugs; though Europe would have been more 
completely indebted to him in this respect if he had not 
made an exception in favour of the atrocious drug known 
as "theriac" and the foolish compound which went by 
the name of "apoplectic balsam." He condemned 
Freemasonry,* though his decree was not enforced. 
But one must glance over the thirteen volumes of his 
Bullarium and the seventeen volumes of his religious 
and liturgical works if one would realize his massive 
industry and devotion to his duties. 

In the spring of 1758 his robust constitution yielded 
to the ravages of gout, labour, and anxiety, and he died 
on May 3d. He was not, as some say, "the idol of 
Rome. " The cardinals felt the disdain of them which 
he often expresses in his letters, and many of the clergy 
regarded him as too severe on them and too pliant to the 
laity. Neither was he a genius. Clearness of mind, 
immense industry, and sober ways are the soiux^s of 
his output. His works are not read today even by 
ecclesiastics, and it is ludicrous to represent them as his 

* June 29, 1748. « March 18, 1751. 

Benedict XIV: the Scholar-Pope 367 

title to immortality. Yet Benedict XIV. was a great 
Pope: a wise ruler of the Chtirch at a time when once 
more, unconsciously, it approached a world-crisis. 
The magnitude of the change which was taking place 
in Europe he never perceived, but his policy was wise 
in the measure of his perception, and his geniality of 
temperament, united to so wholehearted a devotion to 
his duty, won some respect for the name of Pope in 
lands where it had been for two himdred years a thing 
of contempt. 



BENEDICT XIV. had maintained Papal power and 
prestige in his Catholic world by prudent con- 
cessions to a European spirit which he recognized as 
having definitely emerged from its mediaeval phase. 
His successors for many decades lacked his penetration ; 
though one may wonder if, without sacrificing essential 
principles of the Papal scheme, they could have ad- 
vanced farther along the path of concession to a more 
and more exacting age. However that may be, they 
generally clung to the autocratic principles of the 
Papacy, and as a consequence they ceased to be the 
leaders of their age and became little more than corks 
tossed on heaving waters. Not until Leo XIII. do we 
find a Pope with a human quality of statesmanship. In 
the intervening Pontificates the barque of Peter drifted 
on the wild and swollen waters, pathetically bearing 
still a flag which bore the legend of ruler of the waves. 
Clement XIII. (i 758-1 769) and Clement XIV, 
( 1 769-1 774) were occupied with the problem of the 
Jesuits. One by one the Catholic Powers — Portugal, 
France, Naples, and Spain — swept the Jesuits from their 
territory, with a flood of obloquy, and then made a 
collective demand on the Pope for the suppression of 

the Society. Clement XIII. had made a futile effort 


Pius VII. and the Revolution 369 

to assert the old dictatorial power; and Catholic nations 
had retorted by seizing part of the diminished Papal 
States. France had occupied Avignon and Vennais- 
sin, and Naples had taken Benevento and Pontecorvo. 
The bewildered Pope found peace in the grave, and the 
Powers ensured the election of a man who did not 
regard the suppression of the Society as an impossibility. 
For four years Ganganelli, Clement XIV., resisted or 
restrained the pressure of the Catholic Powers, but in 
1773 the famous Bull Dotninus ac Redemptor Noster 
disbanded the most effective force of the Counter- 
Reformation, plainly endorsing the charge against it 
of corruption. ' 

Pius VI. (1775-1798) came vaguely to realize that 
there was some deep malady in the world which, in 
bewildering impotence, he contemplated. The hostil- 
ity to the Jesuits had been a symptom; nor was the 
symptom more intelligible to so unskilful a physician 
when the Protestant rulers of Russia and Prussia pro- 
tected the Jesuits, while the Catholic Powers sternly 
restrained his wish to restore the Society. Vaguely, 
also, he realized that there was a deeper infidelity in the 
world; that the "philosophers" of France and Spain 
and Italy and the "illumined ones" of Germany were a 
new thing xmder the stm ; and that the traditions of the 
Papacy did not help in dealing with such "Catholic" 
statesmen as Pombal, Aranda, Tanucci, and Choiseul. 
He had not even the traditional remedy of finding 
support in the "Roman Empire." Under Joseph 
II. and Kaunitz, Austria had developed a rebellious 

' It is not true that Clement abstained from passing judgment on the 
Society; nor, on the other hand, need we regard seriously the statement 
that he was poisoned by the ex- Jesuits. See the author's Candid HiS' 
lory of the Jesuits, pp. 355 and 368. 


370 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

spirit which rivalled the most defiant phases of 
Gallicanism. ' 

Pius visited Vienna, and trusted that his handsome 
and engaging presence would reconcile the Emperor 
to his large pretensions, but the visit was fruitless and 
the vanity of the Pope was bruised. At least the mass 
of the people were faithful, Pius thought. Then there 
came the terrible disillusion of the French Revolution, 
and resounding echoes of its fiery language in Italy and 
Spain. Pius made his last blunder — though the most 
natural course for him to take — ^by allying himself with 
Austria and England against the Revolution, and the 
shadow of Napoleon fell over Italy. Napoleon shat- 
tered the Austrian forces and compelled the Pope to 
sacrifice Avignon and Venaissin, to lose the three 
Legations (Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna), and to 
pay out of his scanty income 30,000,000 lire. In the 
following year, 1798, the French inspired a rebellion at 
Rome. The Romans set up once more feeble images of 
their ancient "Consuls" and "iEdiles," and the aged 
Pope was dragged from point to point by the French 
dragoons until he expired at Valence on August 29, 
1798. General Bonaparte had said, contemptuously, 
that the Papacy was breaking up. There were those 
who asked if Pius VI. was the last Pope. 

But a new act of the strange European drama was 
opening. Bonaparte was in Egypt, brooding over 
iridescent dreams of empire, and the treaty of Campo 
Formio which he had concluded before leaving had 

' In Austria the movement was called Febronianism, as it had begun 
with a work (De Statu EccUsia) published in 1763 by Johann von Hon- 
theim under the pseudonym of "Febronius." Hontheim had learned 
Gallican sentiments at Louvain. Joseph II. had wisely and firmly 
adopted the chief principles of the school : religious toleration, restriction 
of the interference of the Popes, and control of ecclesiastical property. 

Pius VII. and the Revolution 371 

given Venice (as well as Istria and Dalmatia) to Austria. 
To Venice, accordingly, forty-six of the scattered and 
impoverished cardinals made their way, for the purpose 
of electing a new Pope, and the Conclave was lodged 
in the abbey of San Giorgio on November 30th. The 
history of the Papal Conclaves has inspired a romantic 
and caustic narrative, ' and the account of the Conclave 
of 1798-1799 is not one of the least interesting. Austria, 
which had occupied the northern Papal provinces, and 
Naples, which had succeeded the French in the south 
and was now "guarding" Rome, did not desire the 
election of a Pope who would claim his full temporal 
dominion. Against them was the solid nucleus of 
conservative and rigid cardinals, and on the fringe of the 
struggle were the imattached cardinals, some of whom 
had a lively concern about this General Bonaparte 
who had just returned from Egypt. The statesman 
of the College was Cardinal Consalvi, a very able and 
accomplished son of a noble Pisan family. Consalvi, 
as a good noble and churchman, loathed the Revolution, 
but, when the struggle of voters had lasted three or 
four months and the two chief parties had reached a 
deadlock, he listened to the suggestion of Cardinal 
Maury that the mild "Jacobin" Cardinal Chiaramonti 
would be the best man to elect. Bonaparte had spoken 
weU of Chiaramonti, and Austria would not resent the 
election of a lowly-minded Benedictine monk. Whether 
or no Consalvi suspected that Maury was (at least in 
part) working for a personal reward, he took up the 
intrigue, and on March 24th Chiaramonti became Pius 
VII. They had put an aged and timid monk at the 
helm on such a sea. 

■ Petrucelli della Gattina's Histoire diplomatique des Conclaves, 4 
vols., 1864-6. 

372 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Bamaba Lnigi Chiaramonti was bom at Cesena, 
of a small-noble family, on August 14, 1742. He 
entered the Benedictine Order at the age of sixteen and 
distingtiished himself in his studies. As he was dis- 
tantly related to Pius VI., who was a flagrant nepotist, 
he easily earned promotion at Rome. He taught 
theology and was titular abbot of San Callisto. In 
time he became Bishop of Tivoli, then Bishop of Imola 
and Cardinal. He was administering his diocese with 
due zeal, and more than ordinary gentleness, when the 
storm of the French invasion broke upon Italy. He 
was not a politician. He advised his people to submit 
to the Cisalpine Republic set up by the French, and 
mediated for them with General Augereau when some 
of them rebelled. But, when the Austrians came in 
turn, he advised the people to submit to their "liber- 
ators, " and, when the French returned, the magistrates 
of Imola charged him with treachery and he had to 
plead on his own behalf. However, his colleagues 
affected to regard him as a Jacobin, and his easy atti- 
tude toward the French and the temporal power won 
him the tiara. He was crowned in San Giorgio on 
March 21st. 

Austria had refused the use of San Marco for the 
ceremony, because it was nervously anxious to dis- 
courage ideas of royalty in the new Pope, and its repre- 
sentative in the Sacred College, Cardinal Hrzan, 
urged Pius to go from Venice to Vienna, and to make 
Cardinal Flangini (a Venetian) his Secretary of State. 
Pius qtiietly refused, and chose Consalvi. In quick 
succession the Austrian ambassador offered him the 
territory they had taken from Lombardy, without 
the Legations, and then two out of the three Legations 
(they keeping Romagna), but Consalvi prompted him 

Pius VII. and the Revolution 373 

to reftise, and he set out for Rome. The Austrians 
would not suffer him to pass through the Papal ter- 
ritory they held, and he had to proceed by boat to 
Pesaro. But the news that the Neapolitans had re- 
tired from Rome, and that the Austrians (chastened 
by Napoleon) now offered him the three Legations they 
were imable to keep, cheered the Pontiff on his journey 
and he entered Rome in triimiph. ' 

Consalvi, whose firm hand guides that of the Pope 
during most of his Pontificate, began at once to put in 
order the chaotic affairs of the Papacy. The treasury 
was empty, though the four resplendent tiaras had been 
stripped of their jewels, the taxes were insupportable, 
and the coinage was shamefully debased. Consalvi 
removed some of the taxes — though he was forced to 
restore them at a later date — and, at a cost of 1,500,000 
scudi, called in the adulterated coin. He turned with 
vigour to the affairs of Germany, where the princes who 
were dispossessed of their territory on the left bank of 

* The chief source of our knowledge of the earlier years of Pius is the 
sketch of his life by Artaud de Montor. Cardinal Wiseman (another 
eulogist) covers the ground in the early chapters of his Recollections of 
the Last Four Popes (1858). Dr. E. L. T. Henke's Papst Pius VII. 
(i860) is an excellent impartial study, while D. Bertolotti's Vila di 
Papa Pio VII. (1881) is less scholarly, and Mary Allies' Pius the Seventh 
is rather a tract than an historical study. The Pope's relations with 
Napoleon (after the coronation) are minutely, though far from impar- 
tially, studied in H. Welschinger's Le Pape et VEmpereur (1905) and 
Father Ilario Rinieri's Napoleone e Pio VII, (2 vols., 1906): both make 
some use of unpublished documents. See also F. Rinieri's // Concordato 
tra Pio VII. e il Prima Console (1902). The Pope's Bulls are in the Bui- 
larii Romani ContinucUio (ed. Barberi, vols, xi.-xv). Contemporary 
documents abound, and one need mention only the Memoirs of Consalvi, 
Pacca, and Talleyrand, and the Correspondance de Napoleon I, Special 
studies will be quoted later. Dr. F. Nielsen's History of the Papacy in the 
Nineteenth Century (2 vols., 1906) is the best recent study of the period 
of Pius VII. to Pius IX.: it is scholarly and impartiaL 

374 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

the Rhine by the Treaty of Liin6ville' proposed to 
recoup themselves from the ecclesiastical estates on the 
right bank.^ But every other interest was soon over- 
shadowed by the relations of Napoleon to Rome, and 
the story of Pius VII. is almost entirely the story of 
those singular and tragic relations. 

Napoleon had re-entered Italy, and won Marengo, 
before Pius reached Rome. But experience in the East 
and consideration of his growing ambition had made 
Voltaireanism seem to him impolitic, and he now sent a 
representative to treat with the new Pope as respect- 
fully as if he commanded 200,000 men. They would 
co-operate in restoring religion in France. Pius 
timidly expressed some concern at the Mohammedan 
sentiments Bonaparte had so recently uttered in 
Egypt, but he and the cardinals assented to the pro- 
posal, and Archbishop Spina was sent to Paris in 
November (1800). In view of Napoleon's demands — 
that the old hierarchy of 158 bishops should be reduced 
to sixty, that a certain proportion of the Republican 
(constitutional) bishops should be elected together 
with a proportion of the emigrant royalists, that no 
alienated church-property should be restored, and 
that Christianity should not be established as "the 
religion of France" — Spina foimd that his powers were 
inadequate, and Napoleon sent Cacault to Rome with 
the draft of a Concordat (March, iljoi). Pius and his 
cardinals shrank from so formidable a sacrifice, and 
would negotiate, in time-honoured Roman fashion. 
But ancient customs did not impress Bonaparte. Ca- 
cault reported in May that the Concordat was to be 

' February 9, 1801. 

'This Pius entirely failed to prevent. See Father Leo Koenig's 
Pius VII,: Die Sdkularisation und das Reichskonkordai (1904). 

Pius VII. and the Revolution 375 

signed in five days, whether it killed the bewildered Pope 
or no (as Consalvi said it would), or France would set 
up its Church without his aid. As a compromise, 
Cacault suggested that Consalvi should accompany 
him to Paris, and the Quirinal had faith in its great 
diplomatist. Even Consalvi, however, was nervous 
and almost poweriess before the studied violence of 
Napoleon, and his diplomatic movements were con- 
stantly met with a brusque declaration that Napoleon 
would detach France, if not Catholic Europe, from the 
Papacy if the Concordat were not quickly signed.' 
The attitude of Napoleon was not merely despotic. 
Although France was still overwhelmingly Catholic, 
as writers on the revolutionary excesses often forget, 
an important minority, including most of Napoleon's 
higher officers, were bitteriy anti-clerical and opposed 
any attempt to restore the Church. Napoleon, who 
felt that the religious sentiment of the majority must 
be dissociated from the emigrants and boimd up once 
more with a national Church, would have preferred to 
dispense with Rome and proceed on extreme Gallican 
principles. But Catholic sentiment would not ac- 
quiesce in so violent a procedure, and Napoleon realized 
the vast gain it would be to him to win the cosmopolitan 
influence of the Pope. This feeble and timid monk, he 
thought, needed intimidation, and of that art Napoleon 
was a master. After a final twenty-four hours* sitting 
on July I3th-I4th, the draft was passed by Consalvi. 
After a further struggle, and some further modification, 
it satisfied both parties, and Consalvi sent it, with 
some satisfaction, to Rome for the Pope's signattire. 

' Consalvi's Memoirs are naturally prejudiced, and not reliable. 
Theiner's Hisioire des deux Concordats (1869) and S^ch^'s Les Origines 
du Concordat (1894) are carefully documented. 

376 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

The new bishops were to be nominated by Napoleon and 
instituted by the Pope, and the Catholic faith was to 
be declared "the religion of the majority." Free- 
thinkers resented the whole negotiation: Gallicans 
deplored that the power of the clergy had been divided 
between the Pope and the Consul: Royalists abroad 
protested bitterly against the required resignation of 
the old bishops. Pius felt that this miraculous re- 
storation of the Chtirch was worth the price. He signed 
the Concordat and blessed the restorer of the faith. 

But the Pope and Consalvi obtained a further in- 
sight into Napoleon's character when the Concordat was 
made public on Easter Sunday (1802). With it were 
associated, as if they were part of the agreement, certain 
"Organic Articles" of the most Gallican description. 
No Bull or other document from Rome could be pub- 
lished in France, no Nimcio or Legate exercise his 
fimctions, and no Coimcil be held, without the authori- 
zation of the secular authorities. All seminary-teachers 
were to subscribe to the famous principles of 1682, and 
in case the higher clergy violated those or the laws of 
the Republic the Council of State might sit in judgment 
on them. Pius made a futile protest, when he read the 
seventy-six lamentable articles, but Napoleon soon had 
the Pope smiling over a gift of two frigates to the Papal 
navy; and Pius laicised Talleyrand and raised five 
French bishops, including Napoleon's half-imcle Fesch, 
to the cardinalate. A similar Concordat was forced 
by Napoleon on the Cisalpine Republic in 1803, and 
Naples was compelled to return Benevento and Pon- 
tecorvo. The first phase ended in smiles. 

Cardinal Caprara was sent as legate to Paris, and 
his experiences moderated the Pope's satisfaction. He 
was quite imable to resist the election of the constitu- 

Pius VI I. and the Revolution 377 

tional bishops (the clergy who had adhered to the Repub- 
lican Constitution, which Rome severely and naturally 
condemned) and he could not wring from them a formal 
acknowledgment of their errors. But these matters 
were soon thrust out of mind by fresh events in France. 
On May 18, 1804, Napoleon was elected Emperor, 
and he invited Pius to come to Paris to crown him. 
There was a natural hesitation at Rome to flout the 
Botirbons and their allies by such a recognition of 
Napoleon, but the long delay was not in substance due 
to that political scruple ; nor was it in any serious degree 
due, as some writers say, to the recent execution of the 
Due d'Enghien, which appears little in Papal docimients. 
Consalvi persuaded the Pope to bargain with Napoleon : 
to stipulate for the abolition of the Organic Articles, 
the pimishment of the constitutional clergy, and the 
return of the three Legations. As before, the diplomacy 
of Consalvi was boisterously swept aside by Napoleon, 
and on November 26. the aged Pope set out for Paris. 
Not a single definite promise had been made, and it 
seems, from later language of the Pope, that either he 
or Consalvi regarded the journey with grave distrust. 
Pius left behind him a document authorizing the car- 
dinals to choose a successor, in case Napoleon violently 
detained him in France. We may ascribe this foresight 
to Consalvi, as throughout these earlier years Pius 
appears to be merely the agent of the wishes of the 

Napoleon must have noted with satisfaction the ease 
with which his constant trickery escaped the Pope's 
eye. On November 25th he, in himting dress, with 
studied casualness, met the Pope on the open road at 
Fontainebleau, arranged that he should himself sit on 
the right in their joint carriage, and drove him into 

378 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Paris by night. Every detail had been careftilly 
planned with a view to the avoidance of pajring un- 
necessary honour to the Pope. Pius noticed nothing, 
and wrote enthusiastically to Italy of Napoleon's 
goodness and zeal for religion; and indeed the enthus- 
iasm of the faithful Catholics of Paris, when they found 
a venerable Pope blessing them from the balconies of 
the Tuileries, might well seem to him to indicate a 
triumph after the dark decade that had passed. Dis- 
illusion came slowly. Josephine, who now knew that 
she was threatened with divorce,, confided to the Pope 
that there had been no church-celebration of her 
marriage with Napoleon, and Pius refused to crown 
them imtil it took place. Napoleon thimdered, but the 
Pope had a clear principle and the difficulty was met 
by trickery. Cardinal Fesch was permitted by the 
Pope to marry them without witnesses, and Napoleon 
pointed out to friends that he was taking part in the 
ceremony without internal consent. On the following 
day, December 2d, the coronation took place at Notre 
Dame, and Napoleon at one stroke annihilated the 
prestige of the Pope by crowning himself and Josephine 
with his own hands. 

Another wave of disdain of the Pope passed through 
foreign lands: "A puppet of no importance, " said even 
Joseph de Maistre. Pius remained gentle and patient. 

He had still to win the reward of his sacrifices : to induce 


the Emperor to restore the Papal States, to modify the 
Organic Articles, to abolish the law of divorce, enforce 
the observance of Simday, and reintroduce the mon- 
astic orders. The cardinals had drawn up a pretty 
program. Napoleon suavely refused every proposition, 
and sent one of his officers to suggest that Pius would 
do well to settle at Avignon, and have a palace at Paris. 

Pius VIL and the Revolution 379 

Pius, now thoroughly alarmed, refused emphatically 
to stay in France, and disclosed that he had arranged 
to give him a successor if he were detained. And 
Pius returned to give the cardinals a roseate accoimt of 
the resurrection of religion in France and the goodness of 
the Emperor. When he refused, shortly afterwards, 
to crown Napoleon King of Italy at Milan, there were 
those who admired his firmness. It is more likely that 
he acted on the advice of the disappointed cardinals. 

Up to this point Pius VII. had given no indication of 
personality. One must, of course, appreciate that the 
restoration of the Church in France would seem to him 
an achievement worth large sacrifices, yet his childlike 
joy in Napoleon's insincere caresses, his utter failure 
to detect the true aims and the trickery of the Emperor, 
and the entire lack of plan or efficacy in his protests, 
must have convinced Napoleon, as they convinced 
hostile Royalists, that he was a mere puppet. He 
cannot possibly have had the measure of ability with 
which Cardinal Wiseman would endow him. The same 
conclusion is forced on us by a consideration of the 
second part of his relations with Napoleon. Isolated 
from his abler cardinals, he, like a child, bemoans his 
inability to form his judgment, and sttmibles from error 
to error. But ten years of defeat have taught him that 
he is dealing with an enemy of religion, and he reveals 
a certain greatness of character in his resistance. 

In the spring of 1805 the Emperor asked the Pope 
to dissolve, or declare null, the marriage which his 
brother Jerome had contracted in America with a Miss 
Paterson, a Protestant. Pius was eager to do so, if 
ecclesiastical principles yielded the slightest groimd for 
such an act, but, after a long examination, he was 
obliged to refuse. Napoleon began to speak of him as 

38o Crises in the History of the Papacy 

a fool. The summer brought war with Austria once 
more, and in October the French troops marched 
through the Papal States on their way to Naples, and 
occupied Ancona. When Pius protested (November 
I3> 1805), the Emperor scornfully replied — after an 
interval of two months — that if its Papal owners were 
not able or willing to fortify Ancona, he must occupy 
it : that the Pope and the cardinals prostituted religion 
by their friendly relations with English and Russian 
enemies of France : and that he would respect the Pope's 
spiritual sovereignty, and expected from him respect for 
the Emperor's political sovereignty.* On February 13, 
(1806) Napoleon wrote more explicitly. The Pope 
must close his harbours against the Enghsh, expel from 
Rome all representatives of the enemies of France, get 
rid of his bad coimsellors (Consalvi) , and remember that 
Napoleon is Emperor of Rome. ^ Pius, after consulting 
the cardinals, replied that the "Roman Emperor" 
was at Vienna, and that the Papacy would not be drawn 
into a war between France and England. To the 
French representative in Rome the Pope used a very 
firm language; he would die rather than yield on what 
he conceived as a matter of principle. When, some 
time afterwards, Napoleon annexed Naples, and the 
Papacy protested that it was a Papal fief. Napoleon 
rightly gave Consalvi the credit for the opposition and 
forced him to resign. He had in 1802 restored Bene- 
vento and Pontecorvo to Rome : he now gave the former 
to Talleyrand and the latter to Bemadotte. 

It must seem an idle practice to seek apologies for 
Napoleon's conduct, but we do well to conceive that 
each man was justified in his procedure. Napoleon 
was wrong only in his pretexts and his methods. He 

' Carrespondance dc Napoleon /., xi., 642. * Ibid,, xii., 477. 

Pius VII. and the Revolution 381 

was no orthodox Catholic, and had no illusions about 
the sacred origin of the temporal power. If the Pope 
chose to be a king, he submitted to the laws of kings. 
The Papacy imdoubtedly thwarted the work of the 
Emperor in Italy and aided his enemies. Cardinal 
Pacca says in his Memoirs that Pius wrote him that he 
''risked everything for the English."' Common op- 
position to Napoleon brought about a remarkable ap- 
proach of Rome and England, and the Qtiirinal had, 
hopes of advantage for the Church in England. The 
Papal ports were of great service to the English fleet, 
and therefore of great disservice to the French. 

Pius VII. seems never to have realized the elementary 
fact that Napoleon was not a Christian. He relied too 
long on the orthodox fiction that, because the Pope was 
the successor of Peter in spiritual matters, any temporal 
power taken from him was taken from "The Blessed 
Peter. " Napoleon did not share that illusion, and it 
is singular that he waited so long before consolidating 
his Italian kingdom by absorbing the Papal States. 
The year 1807, when Napoleon was busy with Prussia, 
passed in recriminations. Pius would, he said, show 
them that the substitution of Cardinal Casoni as his 
Secretary of State for Consalvi made no difference. He 
seemed to be finding his personality, but there were 
fiery cardinals like Pacca still with him. 

In January, 1808, Napoleon ordered General Miollis 
to occupy Rome, and presently he expelled from Rome 
all cardinals who were not subjects of the Papal States. 
Pius, during the night, had a protesting poster fixed 
on the walls. On April 2d Napoleon annexed Urbino, 
Ancona, Macerata, and Camerino: on the foolish pre- 
text (among others) that Charlemagne had bestowed 

' Memarie, i., 68. 

382 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

those provinces on the Papacy for the good of Cath- 
olicism, not for the profit of its enemies. Pius sent a 
long and dignified protest to all bishops in his dominions 
and broke off diplomatic relations with France. Ga- 
brielli had succeeded Casoni in coimselling Pius, and the 
French now made the singular mistake of arresting 
Gabrielli and substituting Pacca — a, fiery and inflexible 
opponent of Napoleon. In August Pacca came into 
violent collision with the French and they went to 
arrest him. He simmioned the Pope, and Pius person- 
ally conducted him to the protection of the Quirinal. 
In the sohtude of the Quirinal they prepared for the last 
step and drafted an excommimication of Napoleon.' 
At length on June 10, 1809, they received Napoleon's 
declaration that the Papal States were incorporated in 
his Empire, and the Bull of excommimication (Quum 
Memoranda) was issued. It did not name Napoleon, 
and it was at once suppressed by the French, but Gen- 
eral Miollis considered that a conditional order for the 
arrest of the Pope, which Napoleon had sent, now came 
into force. At three in the morning of July 6th the 
troops broke into the Quirinal. When General Radet 
and his officers reached the Audience Chamber, they 
found the Pope sitting gravely at a table, with a group 
of cardinals on either side. For several minutes the 
two groups gazed on each other in tense silence, and at 
length Radet annoimced that the Pope must abdicate 
or go into exile. Taking only his breviary and crucifix, 
the Pope entered the carriage at four o'clock, and he and 
Pacca were swiftly driven through the silent streets, 
and on the long road to Savona. They found that 

' Pacca relates that the English sent a friar to say that they had a 
frigate ready to take away the Pope and his secretary. Such were the 
relations of Rome and England. 

Pius VIL and the Revolution 383 

they had between them only the siim of twenty-two 
cents, and they laughed. 

Pius reached Savona on August i6th (1809), and 
was lodged in the episcopal palace. He refused the 
50,000 francs a year and the carriages offered )by Na- 
poleon. He refused to walk in Savona, and spent the 
day in a little room overiooking the walls, or walking 
in the scanty garden of the house. He had no secretary 
and his aged hands trembled, but pious Cathohcs 
conspired to defeat his guardians (or corrupt his 
guardians) and his letters and directions went out 
stealthily over Europe. His cardinals were removed to 
Paris, and when Napoleon divorced Josephine and 
married Marie Louise (April i, 18 10), only thirteen 
out of the twenty-seven cardinals refused to attend the 
ceremony. Pius still declined to enter into Napoleon's 
plans. Mettemich sent an Austrian representative to 
argue with him, but the Pope would not yield his tem- 
poral power, and he demanded his cardinals. Car- 
dinals Spina and Caselli, of the moderate party, were 
sent to persuade him, but the mission was fruitless. 
Napoleon, who was sorely harassed by the Pope's re- 
fusal to institute the new bishops, tried to act without 
him, and made Maury Archbishop of Paris. Pius sent 
a secret letter to the Vicar Capitular of Paris, declaring 
that the appointment was null, and Napoleon angrily 
ordered a search of his rooms and the removal of books, 
ink, paper, and personal attendants. 

At last, in Jime, 181 1, the strategy of Napoleon suc- 
ceeded. The Archbishop of Tours and three other 
bishops presented themselves at Savona with the 
terrible news that Napoleon had summoned a General 
Coimcil at Paris and expected the bishops to remedy 
the desperate condition of the French Church — ^there 

384 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

were twenty-seven bishops awaiting institution — inde- 
pendently of the Pope. Pius still refused to submit, but 
day after day the prelates and the Count de Chabrol 
harrowed him with descriptions of the appalling results 
of his obstinacy, and on the tenth day they hastened 
to Paris with the news that Pius had consented on the 
main point: he would institute the bishops within six 
months, or, if he failed to do so, the Archbishop would 
have power to institute them. 

What really happened at Savona is the only serious 
controversy in the life of Pius VII., and this controversy 
is based entirely on the reluctance of Catholic writers 
to admit that the Pope erred. The usual theory, based 
on the work of D'Haussonville,' is that Pius fell into so 
grave a condition, mentally and physically, that he can 
hardly be regarded as responsible. Recent and author- 
itative Catholic writers have given a different defence, 
H. Welschinger ^ seems to suggest that Pius was drugged 
by his medical attendant, but he goes on to make this 
fantastic suggestion superfluous by claiming that Pius 
did not consent at all, either orally or in writing. Father 
Rinieri, on the other hand, scorns the theory of tem- 
porary insanity, holds that the Pope deliberately 
assented, and claims that the consent was perfectly 
justified because it was conditional; the Pope agreed 
i/*, as the bishops said, his concession would lead to 
peace and his restoration to liberty. These theories 
destroy each other, and are severally inadmissible. 
Welschinger, to exonerate the Pope from weakness, 
assimies that the Archbishop of Tours lied; for that 
prelate wrote at once to Paris that they had ''drawn 
up a note in His Holiness's room, and he had accepted 

' Vkglise Romaine et le Premier Empire, 5 vols., 1 868-1 870. 
« Le Pape et VEmpereur (1905), pp. 177-196. 

Pius VII. and the Revolution 385 

it," and on his duplicate of the note he wrote: "This 
note, drawn up in His Holiness's room, and in a sense 
under his directions, was approved and agreed to."' 
Indeed, when Welschinger himself quotes the Pope say- 
ing, in his fit of repentance, *' Luckily I signed nothing, " 
we gather that Pius oraMy assented. Rinieri, on the other 
hand, is wrong in making the Pope's assent strictly 
conditional; the last clause of the note merely states 
that the Pope is assured that good results will follow. 
And both writers are at fault when they lay stress on 
the fact that the note was a mere draft of an agreement. 
Unless the fotir bishops lied, Pius VII., under great 
importimity and predictions of disaster, and in a very 
poor state of health, consented to a principle which was 
utterly inconsistent with Papal teaching. 

Later events put this beyond question, and make all 
these speculations ridiculous. It is tmquestioned that 
when, on the following morning, Pius asked for the 
bishops and learned that they had gone, he fell into a 
fit of remorse and despair which brought him near to 
the brink of madness. It is equally tmquestioned that 
Napoleon's coimcil drew up a decree in the sense of the 
famous Savona note and that on September 20th Pius 
signed it. Napoleon had been dissatisfied with the 
Pope's oral consent and his retractation (which the 
Emperor concealed), and had tried to bully the council 
into a declaration independently of the Papacy. When 
he failed, he assured them of the Pope's consent and 
they passed the decree. Eight bishops and five car- 
dinals took it to Savona, and the Pope subscribed to it. 
The only plausible defence of Pius is that he granted or 
delegated the power to the archbishops, instead of 
merely declaring that the archbishops possessed it. 

' See Rinieri, pp. 165 and 166. 

386 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

But the Pope's acute remorse shows that he had not 
deliberately meant this. 

Napoleon, however, saw that his scheme had failed 
in this respect, and he kept the Pope at Savona while he 
set out on the Russian campaign. After a time the 
Emperor, alleging that British ships hovered about 
Savona, ordered the removal of the Pope to Fontaine- 
bleau, and he was transferred with such secrecy and 
discomfort that he almost died in crossing Mont Cenis. 
At Fontainebleau he maintained his quiet, ascetic life: 
even afforded the spectacle of a Pope mending his own 
shirts. The thirteen "black" cardinals — the men who 
opposed Napoleon and were stripped of their red robes 
and sent into exile — could not approach him, and he 
paid little attention to Napoleon's courtiers. In 
December (1812) Napoleon was back from his terrible 
failure, but he still sought to bluff the aged Pope. In 
a genial New- Year letter he proposed that Pius shotdd 
settle at Paris and have two million francs a year: 
that he would in future permit the Catholic rulers to 
nominate two thirds of the cardinals: and that the 
thirteen black cardinals should be censured by the 
Pope and gracefully pardoned by the Emperor. Pius 
hesitated; and on the evening of January i8th, when 
Napoleon suddenly burst into his room and embraced 
him, the old tears of childlike joy stood in his eyes 
once more. Napoleon remained and put before him a 
new Concordat, sacrificing the demands he had made 
in his letter, but demanding the abdication of the 
temporal power and six months' limit for the Papal 
institution of bishops. Harrowing pictures of the 
Pope's condition and the pressure put on him by 
Napoleonic prelates are drawn by pious pens. But 
the fact is not disputed that on January 25th the 

Pius VIL and the Revolution 387 

"martyr-Pope" signed the Concordat and sacrificed 
the temporal power. 

When Pacca and Consalvi and the black cardinals, 
who were now set at liberty, arrived at Fontainebleau, 
they shuddered at his surrender, but they could not 
upbraid the pale, worn, distracted Pontiff. He acknow- 
ledged his "sin, " as he called it, and asked their advice. 
By one vote — fourteen against thirteen — the stalwarts 
decided that he must retract and defy Napoleon, and 
a remarkable week followed. They drafted a new 
Concordat, and the Pope wrote a few lines each day, 
which were taken away in Pacca's pocket to the rooms 
of Cardinal Pignatelli, who lived outside. The Emper- 
or's spies were defeated, and he had a last burst of rage 
when the new Concordat was put before him. But the 
Allies were closing roimd the doomed adventtu-er. 
As they approached, he offered Pius half the Papal 
States, and made other futile proposals. In January, 
1814, Pius was conveyed to Savona: on March 17th 
he was informed that he was free. Napoleon had fallen. 

Consalvi was dispatched to join in the coimsels of the 
Allies, and Pacca, who took his place, set himself 
joyously to obliterate every trace of the Revolution 
and Napoleon. Monasteries were reopened, schools 
and administrative offices restored to the clergy, the 
Inquisition re-established, the Jews thrust back into 
the Ghetto: even these new French practices of light- 
ing streets at night and vaccinating people were abol- 
ished. Above all things the Society of Jesus must be 
restored. Pius had in 1801 recognised the Society in 
Russia* and in 1804 he granted it canonical existence in 
the two Sicilies. The appalling experience of the last 
twenty-five years had now swept the last trace of 

« By the Brief Catholica Fidei, March 7, 1801. 

388 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

liberalism out of the minds of Catholic monarchs, and 
on August 17, 1 8 14, the Bull Sollicitudo Omnium 
restored the Society throughout the world; though 
Portugal rejected it and France dared not carry it out. 
A few months later Rome trembled anew, when it heard 
that Napoleon had left Elba and Murat marched across 
the Papal States to support him. Pius fled from Rome, 
rejecting all the overtures of Napoleon and Murat, but 
the Himdred Days were soon over and reaction reigned 
supreme. Pius never lost his quaint appreciation of 
Napoleon. Mme. Letitia, the brothers Lucien and 
Louis, and Fesch lived in honour at Rome, and, when 
the mother complained that the English were killing 
her son at St. Helena, Pius earnestly begged Consalvi 
to intercede for him. At Napoleon's death in 182 1 
he directed Fesch to conduct a memorial service. 

Meantime Consalvi had won back the Papal States 
(except Avignon and Venaissin and a strip of Ferrara) 
at the Vienna Congress, and had returned to moderate 
the excesses of the reactionary Pacca. Consalvi had 
no liberal sentiments, but he had intelligence. At least 
half of the educated Italians were Freethinkers, and 
the secret society of the Carbonari spread over the 
coimtry, ferociously combatted by the orthodox San- 
fedisti. Italy entered on what the wits called the long 
struggle of the " cats " and the " dogs " : a rife period for 
brigands. Consalvi, in spite of Pacca and the Zdanti, 
compromised. He retained many of the Napoleonic re- 
forms, though, when the Spanish revolution of 1820 had 
its revolutionary echoes all over Italy, he drew nearer to 
the Holy Alliance for the bloody extirpation of liberal- 
ism. Rome prospered once more, and artists and princes 
flocked to it, but Pius VII. must have felt in his last years 
that the soil of Europe still heaved and shuddered. 

Pius VIL and the Revolution 389 

The relations of the Qmrinal' with other countries 
were restored in some meastire, in fax:e of stem opposi- 
tion. A new Concordat with France was signed in 
18 1 7, but the Legislative Assembly refused to pass it 
and it did not come into force before the death of Pius, 
Spain set up a regime of truculent orthodoxy under the 
sanguinary rule of Ferdinand, and the Revolution of 
1820 was crushed for him by the French. Austria 
made no new Concordat and retained much of the 
Febronian temper. Prussia signed a favourable Con- 
cordat in 1821. Bavaria came to an agreement in 1817, 
but the liberals defeated it; and Naples and Sardinia 
were ruled in the spirit of the Holy Alliance. William 
I. sought a Concordat for the Netherlands, though 
without result: England endeavoured to bring about 
an agreement in regard to the Irish bishops, which 
was defeated by the Irish : and the dioceses of Boston, 
New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, Richmond, and 
Cincinnati were set up in America. 

I do not enter into closer detail, as we recognize in 
all this work the hand of Consalvi rather than of Pius. 
The aged Pope continued to rejoice over every symptom, 
or apparent symptom, of religious recovery, and to mis- 
calculate his age. Even the revolution of 1820 failed 
to shake orthodox security and led only to a more trucu- 
lent persecution of the new spirit. Pius had now passed 
his eightieth year and could not be expected to see 
what neither Mettemich nor Consalvi could see. In the 
summer of 1823 he fell into his last illness. As he sank, 
men noticed that he was murmuring "Savona, Fon- 
tainebleau," but he died praying quietly on August 17th. 
It was a strange fate that put Bamaba Luigi Chiara- 

' Almost the only mention of the Vatican at this period is that in 
1807 Pius had it prepared for the reception of Napoleon! 

390 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

monti on a throne in such an age. Whatever chtirch- 
lore he may have had, he confronted the problems of 
his age with dim and feeble intelligence, and he was at 
times, when there was no Pacca or Consalvi to guide 
him, induced to make concessions which are not con- 
sistent with the fond title of " martyr-Pope. " He was a 
good Bishop of Imola. 



IN spite of the grave condition of the Catholic world, 
the ill-concealed spread of liberal ideas among the 
educated, and the spurts of rebellion throughout Europe, 
the cardinals met the new danger with as little wisdom 
as their predecessors had confronted the Reformation. 
The three Conclaves which were held within eight years 
of the death of Pius VII. were marred by the old 
wrangles of parties and ambitions of individuals, and 
they issued in the election of entirely imsuitable Popes. 
The Papacy allied itself with the monarchs in an effort 
to stifle the growing modem spirit, and imitated their 
unscrupulous methods. Leo XII. and Gregory XVI., at 
least, left behind them records at which modem senti- 
ment shudders. Yet they showed as little appreciation 
as Louis XVIIL or Charles X. of the irresistible develop- 
ment through which Europe was passing, and there seem 
to be whole centuries of evolution between their acts and 
annotmcements and those of Leo XIII. 

Cardinal della Ganga, who became Leo XII. at the 
death of Pius, was a deeply religious and narrow-minded 
man who achieved much moral and social reform in his 
dominions, yet his death in 1829 was, says Baron Bunsen, 
hailed at Rome "with indecent joy." His despotic 
Puritan measures angered his subjects, and his gross 


392 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

injustice to the Jews and fierce persecution of the Car- 
bonari and Liberals fed the growing Italian hatred of 
the Papacy. Pius VIII (1829-30) was a milder Zelante 
and had won— a singular distinction for a Pope in such 
a crisis — some repute in canon law and numismatics. 
He was nearly seventy years old, and his Secretary of 
State, the disreputable Albani, was over eighty. The 
revolutionary movement of 1830 completed his affic- 
tions, and a Roman wag proposed as his epitaph: "He 
was bom: he wept: he died."^ Then came the longer 
Pontificate of Gregory XVI., the chief events of which 
will pass before us as we review the earlier career of 
Pius IX. Gregory was a pious, narrow-minded Camal- 
dulese monk. Like his predecessor, he was well versed 
in canon law and as ill fitted as a man could be to rule 
in the nineteenth century. He left the repression of the 
rebels to his Secretary of State Lambruschini, and said 
his beads, and ate sweetmeats at merry little gatherings 
of cardinals, while Yoimg Italy marched nobly to the 
scaffold and its brilliant writers opened the eyes of the 
world to the foul condition of the Papal States. 

Gregory died on Jime i, 1846, dimly foreseeing an 
age of revolution, and reform was now the great issue 
before the Conclave. The late Pope's supporters put 
forward the truculent Lambruschini, but from the first 
Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti was conspicuous in the voting, 
and on the second day of the Conclave he was elected 
by thirty-seven out of fifty votes. It was useless any 
longer to ignore that appalling indictment of abuses, 

* Dtiring his twenty-months' Pontificate, in 1829, Catholic Emancipa- 
tion was carried in England. But the Quirinal's share was confined to 
rejoicing. Consalvi, however, had "worked incessantly" for it, and 
had been much aided by the Duchess of Devonshire. See his words in 
Artaud's Hisioire du Pape Leon XIL, i., 171. 

Pius IX- 393 

corruption, and incompetence which the Italian writers 
were circulating throughout Etux)f)e. The cardinals 
chose a reformer: a man who was at times described 
even as a Liberal. 

Giovanni Maria Gianbattista Pietro Pellegrino Isi- 
doro Mastai-Ferretti — the name reflects the piety of 
his mother — waa then fifty-four years old. He had 
been bom at Sinigaglia on May 13, 1792, of parents 
who belonged to the small provincial nobility. He was 
sent to school at Volterra, and he is variously described 
by fellow-pupils who took opposite sides in the fierce 
conflict of his later years as a pale, pure little angel of 
marvellous industry, and as a sickly, epileptic little 
idler with the reputation, Trollope says, of being *' the 
biggest liar in the school.'" He seems to have been 
a delicate, handsome, undistinguished pupil of proper 
character. His virtuous mother wished him to become 
a priest, and he received the tonsure at Volterra in 1809. 
In October he was sent to continue his studies at Rome, 

'The contradiction is characteristic of the literature on Pius IX. 
Most of it was written before or just after his death and is fiercely par* 
tisan. Petruccelli della Gattina's Pie IX, (1866) is the chief and least 
reliable of the hostile biographies: T. A. Trollope 's Story of the Life of 
Pius IX, (2 vols., 1877) is one of the most temperate of the anti-Papal 
works and still has some use: F. Hitchman's Pius the Ninth (1878) is 
slighter but equally moderate. Such studies as those of Shea, Maguire, 
Dawson, Wappmannspeiger (2 vols.), Stepischnegg (2 vols.)i Pougeois 
(6 vols.), and Freiherr von Helfert are equally prejudiced on the Catho- 
lic side. The best study of the character and work of Pius is Dr. F. 
Nielsen's Papacy in the Nineteenth Century (2 vols., 1906), a temperate 
(perhaps not sufficiently critical) and scholarly work. Bishop G. S. 
Pelczar's Pio IX, e il sua Pontificato (3 vols., Italian translation 1909) 
is learned but fulsome and undiscriminating. Father R. Ballerini*s 
incomplete study (published as Les premises pages du Pantificat du 
Pape Pie IX,, 1909) has no distinction. For special aspects see D. 
Silvagni, La Corte e la Societd Romana (1885), and Count von Hoens- 
broech's Rom und das Zentrum (1910), and works quoted hereafter. 

394 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

and for some months he lived in the Quirinal, in charge 
of an tmcle who was a canon of St. Peter's. They were 
related to Pius VII. and were favoured. The French 
invasion of 1810 drove them back to Sinigaglia, and 
Giovanni was sximmoned for service in the Noble 
Guard of the Viceroy of Italy. His epileptic tendency 
was successfully pleaded for exemption, and he returned 
to Rome in 18 14. It seems, however, that he was not 
deeply religious, and he applied for service in the Papal 
Guard rather than for orders.' His fits closed the 
military service of the Pope against him, and, on the 
letter of the law, should equally exclude him from the 
clergy. He became very depressed and morose, but 
Pius VII. strained the regulations in favour of his young 
relative. He was to receive ordination on condition that 
he never said mass without an assistant. In 18 19 he 
became a priest, and made the small progress which a 
distant relative of the Pope might expect. In 1823 he 
accompanied a Papal representative to Chile, and the 
voyage probably strengthened his constitution. Pius 
VII. died during his absence from Rome, but as Gio- 
vanni's protector. Cardinal della Ganga, became Pope, 
he returned to favour at Rome. He received a canonry, 
the administration of the Hospital of St. Michael, and 
(in 1827) the archbishopric of Spoleto. 

It is clear that the yoimg Archbishop did excellent 
work at Spoleto, and we must read with discretion the 
statements of his less temperate critics. His predeces- 
sor had been idle and worthless, and Mastai-Ferretti 
applied himself with zeal, judgment, and success to the 
reform of clergy and laity. In 1829 Leo XII., his 

» Ballerini and Helfert deny this but Pelczar and Nielsen make it clear. 
The graver statement of the hostile biographers — that he spent his youth 
in dissipation — rests on no respectable evidence. 

Pius IX. 395 

patron, died, and Pius VIII. entered upon his short and 
futile Pontificate. Gregory XVI., who succeeded him, 
at once met the blasts of the Revolution of 1830. The 
outbreak at Rome was suppressed, but the revolution- 
aries capttu-ed Bologna and brought about a dangerous 
agitation throughout Italy. Mastai-Ferretti is said 
to have been compelled to fly from Spoleto, but his 
actions and attitude at this time are not wholly clear. 
Austrian troops suppressed the Revolution, and Greg- 
ory entered upon that truculent crusade against the 
Liberals and their claims which diverted England from 
its new alliance with the Papacy and even shocked 
Mettemich. When the Austrians compelled him to 
take the Secretaryship of State from Cardinal Bemetti, 
he bestowed it on the more intemperate Cardinal Lam- 
bruschini, and the struggle with the Carbonari and the 
Young Italians continued. In his Encyclical Mirari 
Vos (August 15, 1832) Gregory pledged the Papacy 
to a stem refusal of the democratic reforms which the 
new Etu-ope demanded. 

Mastai-Ferretti had meantime (February 16, 1832) 
been removed to the bishopric of Imola: a more pro- 
fitable see and a recognized path to higher honours. 
His amiable and conciliatory character inclined him to 
meet the more moderate Liberals with ease, though he 
does not seem to have made any prof oimd study of the 
political development of his time. When Cardinal 
Lambruschini condemned scientific associations, the 
Bishop of Imola is reported to have commented that he 
saw no inconsistency between science and religion. On 
these safe and innocuous expressions the Bishop won a 
repute for *'LiberaUsm" among the more reactionary 
members of the Curia, and Gregory XVI. long hesitated 
to raise him to the cardinalate. He was an exemplary 

396 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

bishop, and in the reform of education and of philan- 
thropic institutions he performed no slight social service, 
which may have attracted the esteem of the more 
moderate Liberals. He was admitted to the Sacred 
College on December 14, 1840, and continued for six 
years to direct his diocese and encourage those temper- 
ate reforms which most of his colleagues were too indo- 
lent or too prejudiced to favour. The condition of the 
Church was again becoming critical. The Carbonari 
were weakened and dispersed in Italy, but Mazzini 
had begun to lead " the Youth of Italy " to a more open 
and more heretical attack on Austria and the Papacy, 
while high-minded and htmianitarian priests like Gio- 
berti, Ventura, and Rosmini in Italy, and Lamennais 
in France, were, in varying degrees, looking to a Cath- 
olic Liberalism to ease the pressure of the growing 
popular revolt. Gregory XVI. and his advisers re- 
garded the entire Liberal movement, in every shade, as 
a sinful and temporary aberration. They passed the 
most drastic laws for its suppression: the prisons of 
Italy were distended with their victims: yet their ortho- 
dox militia, the Sanfedisti, had to wage a perpetual and 
bitter struggle against the spreading revolt. 

We who look back on this painful travail of the birth 
of democracy are at times unduly impatient with ideal- 
ists who failed to recognize its promise at the time. 
Not merely ecclesiastical statesmen, but heterodox 
observers and sons of the people like Carlyle, looked 
upon the new movement as an emanation from the pit, 
a menace to society. But most biographers pass to the 
opposite extreme when they conceive Pius IX. as 
judiciously studying the demands of the age, realizing 
that a moderate measure of democracy and liberty was 
just and inevitable, and then renouncing his Liberal 

Pius IX. 397 

faith when he saw the excesses of the democrats. For 
this there is no documentary support. Pius was ami- 
able, accessible, and anxious to please all: he was 
neither a statesman nor an economist, and had not a 
firm judgment of the European situation. He was 
disposed to see justice in the semi-Liberalism of Gio- 
berti or Ventura, and disposed the next day to listen 
to the Mephistophelean coimsels of Mettemich. Eu- 
rope was to him a world in which a large nimiber of 
thoughtful people demanded reforms which were 
consistent with the political and religious supremacy 
of the Papacy, and he was disposed to favour and 
indulge them. He failed to realize, imtil 1848, that 
the firm and consistent demands of the new age were 
inconsistent with Papal supremacy. But he clearly 
disliked the mediaeval policy of the Curia and he was 
regarded with hope by the reformers within the fold. 
It was they who greeted his election in Jime, 1 846. The 
more radical Italians did not want a reforming Pope, 
because they did not want a Papacy. 

Pius was crowned on June 21st, and at once turned to 
what he would regard as ** democratic" measures. He 
gave dowries to a thousand poor girls, and decreed that 
all pledges in the Monte di Piet^ which were less in value 
than two lire should be returned to their owners. On 
July i6th he declared a general anmesty of political 
prisoners, and the Romans flocked to the Quirinal to 
cheer their handsome and cotu-ageous Pope, and de- 
monstrations of joy resoimded throughout Italy. The 
amnesty was in reality conditional: the released pris- 
oners and returning exiles were to promise not again to 
'* disturb the public order. " However, there was at the 
time no severe application of the condition, and Pius 
continued in his reforming mood. That he had no 

398 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

serious leaning to Liberalism he made abimdantly clear 
to the more thoughtftil before the end of the year. On 
November 9th he issued an Encyclical in which he con- 
demned Bible Societies, secret political societies, critics 
of the Church, license of the press, and so on.' The 
Radicals still mingled with the crowds below his bal- 
cony and flattered him. Some, no doubt, had the idea 
that he might be induced to go farther; but Mazzini 
and others have revealed that they astutely used these 
demonstrations to educate the people in larger demands 
and provoke a more serious revolt. Pius threw open 
his garden to the public on certain days, opened night 
schools and Stmday schools, re-opened the Accademia 
dei Lincei (for the promotion of science), and discussed 
plans of railways for Italy. He was in a patriarchal 
mood which came near to social idealism. Journals 
multiplied, and clubs became active: especially the 
Circolo Romano, which gradually came under the 
influence of a prosperous and very radical publican 
from the Trastevere, Angelo Brunetti, nicknamed "little 
Cicero" (Ciceruacchio) for his demagogic eloquence. 
The dreamy Christian Liberals, Gioberti and Ventura, 
gave the not very penetrating Pope the idea that he was 
going to make a model State of Papal Italy and, through 
it, to lead the world on the new upward path. 

The Radicals encouraged the clouds of incense which 
obscured the Pope's vision, and he listened gravely to 
the requests for representative government. On April 
19, 1847, he proposed a Consul to di Stato: a council 
composed of laymen from the various provinces — all 
carefully selected by the clergy and gravely reminded 
that their business was merely to offer suggestions. 
In July he formed a Civic Guard for Rome : in Novem- 

« litres Apostoliques dt Pie IX., p. 177. 

Pius IX. 399 

ber he inaugurated a scheme of municipal administra- 
tion for Rome : and at the close of December he formed 
a ministry — of cardinals and other clerical dignitaries. 
By this time, however, Pius had become perplexed and 
suspicious. Cardinal Gizzi, his Secretary of State, 
resigned, the Gregorian cardinals frowned, and the 
Austrians complained of his concessions. There was a 
banquet in Rome to Cobden, and there was a very noisy 
and triumphant banquet to Ciceruacchio. The Pope 
forbade popular demonstrations, yet he perceived daily 
that his concessions did nothing to appease the popular 
appetite. The Italians demanded elected, lay olBBcers. 
To make matters worse for the Pope the Austrians 
advanced against the Papal States. The difference 
was adjusted, but from the summer of 1847 hostility to 
Austria increased rapidly, and the people demanded 
an eflBcient Papal army to resist them. When, on 
February 8th, the news came of the third French 
Revolution, the agitators, who had now complete 
influence, became bolder. Ciceruacchio himself, sup- 
ported by the Liberal Princes Corsini and Borghese, saw 
the Pope, and demanded war on Austria and democratic 
institutions. At sight of the massive and resolute 
crowds which supported them, the Pope promised a lay 
ministry and a more efiicient army; but on the follow- 
ing day he, addressing the crowd in patriarchal terms, 
complained of the excessive demands of a "minority** 
among them and protested that the Papacy needed no 
war on Austria, as the Catholic Powers would protect 
it. The Radical leaders saw his weakness, and under 
their steady presstu-e he began to make his famous 
concessions to democracy. A new ministry, with lay 
nobles in most of the positions, was formed in March, 
the Jesuits were advised to leave Rome, the ancient 

400 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

walls and restrictions of the Ghetto were abolished, and 
a constitution was granted. The members of the 
Lower Chamber were to be elected, but the College of 
Cardinals would have a veto on the proceedings of both 
houses, and they could not discuss ecclesiastical or 
"mixed " aflEairs : a very grave restriction in a theocratic 

The Radicals now concentrated the people on the cry 
of war with Atistria, and on that issue the Pope fell. 
The Papal troops had crossed the frontier in support 
of the Sardinians, and, as Pius refused to declare war, 
the Austrians treated them as brigands. The meetings 
in Rome became more and more violent, the new 
ministry resigned, and, as Pius still refused to declare 
war, a second ministry handed in its resignation. The 
summer and autimin of 1848 passed in this struggle. 
Pius insisted that war was not consistent with his 
religious character, and all Rome united in opposing 
him. In November, at the suggestion of Rosmim', the 
Pope ordered Pellegrino Rossi to form a new ministry. 
Rossi, a friend of Napoleon III., was hated by the 
Radicals, and his dream of a imion of Italian princes 
under the Pope's direction conflicted with their plan of 
a imited and free Italy. He was assassinated on Novem- 
ber 15th, and on the following day a vast crowd, partly 
armed, marched to the Quirinal and peremptorily laid 
down their claims. In the confusion a prelate at one 
of the windows was shot, and the Pope, seeing the Roman 
Guard mingling with the crowd, abjectly siurendered, 
and retired to disavow his concession and prepare for 
flight. The situation was very grave, and the action 
of the Pope was far from heroic. It is not a maxim of 
the higher morality that you may evade an angry 
crowd by making promises that you do not intend to 

Pius IX. 401 

fulfil, or that you may afterwards discover that such 
promises were void. 

The sequel is well-known. With the assistance of the 
foreign ambassadors the Pope, disguised as a simple 
priest, fled to Gaeta. So great was his concern that 
when the King of Naples, warned of his flight, came the 
next day and inquired for the Pope, the officials at 
Gaeta were quite unaware that Pius had been amongst 
them for twenty-four hours. The cardinals gathered 
about him, and he appealed to the Catholic Powers to 
restore his authority and suppress the rebels. It is 
not an entirely accurate analysis to say that the Pope's 
** Liberalism" now ended, and he became a reactionary. 
He had been duped by the Radicals and had never 
understood his subjects. A feeble and carefully 
controlled lay representation, with neither legislative 
nor executive power, was not a part of the Liberal creed. 
Pius IX. was never a Liberal. He was from the first 
unwilling to surrender the absolute authority of the 
clergy, to grant freedom of discussion, to abolish the 
monstrous growth of clerical officialdom, or to apply 
a fitting proportion of the income of the Papal States 
to their effective military defence. When he saw that 
even moderate Liberals demanded these things, he 
recognized that he had never been in agreement with 
them, and that his own half-measures were of no value. 
He now further recognized that the advanced Liberals 
had captured his people, and he turned, quite logically, 
to a policy of oppression. There was no material 
change of his political faith. 

From Gaeta he appointed a "governing commission" 
(imder a cardinal) for Rome, and, when the people 
refused it and set up a Republic, he placidly entrusted 
his case to France, Spain, Naples, and Sardinia, and 


402 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

devoted himself to the preparation of the dogma of the 
Immaculate Conception of Mary. Rosmini was still 
with him, urging compromise with the democrats, but 
the somewhat imscrupulous Cardinal Antonelli, who 
now became Secretary of State, astutely destroyed the 
influence of the reformer, and confirmed Pius in his 
attitude of defiance and repression. Even when the 
French troops — apparently thinking that they could 
seduce the Romans to admit them in peace and could 
then compel the Pope to adopt a conciliatory policy — 
crushed the Roman Republic, and reopened the gates 
to the Pope, Pius did not hasten to return. On Sep- 
tember 4th he left Gaeta for Portici, and it was not 
imtil April 12, 1850, that he returned to the Quirinal. 
The crowd ironically applauded Pio Nono Secondo. 

The Pope had replied to the French appeals for a 
promise of reform that it was not consistent with his 
dignity to make promises imder apparent pressure, but 
he had consented to the creation of new political in- 
stitutions. From Portici he promised a new Consiglio 
di Stato, a Consiglio dei Ministri, and a Consulta di 
Stato. These were wholly under clerical control, and 
the elections for the District Councils, the only bodies 
which were to have free popular representatives, were 
soon suppressed. But there is little need to dwell on 
the second phase of Papal government under Pius IX. 
Cardinal Antonelli and the Jesuits had a paramoimt 
influence, and the dream of enlightenment and self- 
government was roughly dissipated. Between 1850 
and 1855 the Roman Cotmcil alone passed ninety 
sentences of death, and the prisons were again thickly 
populated ; while the disorders of finance and adminis- 
tration, and the appalling illiteracy of the people in an 
age of advancing education, were scrupulously main- 

Pius IX. 403 

tained. The scandal which in later years followed the 
death of Antonelli — the spectacle of his natural daughter 
struggling for his vast fortune, though he was a son of 
the people — suflBciently disclosed the character of that 
able and indelicate minister, while the Jesuits were not 
unmindful that the first act of the revolution had been 
to expel them. They had sent some of their abler 
representatives to Gaeta, and from that time they had 
a deep influence on the ecclesiastical policy of the Pope, 
while Antonelli ruled the Papal States and oflfered what 
Lord Clarendon called a " scandal to Europe. " Within 
little over a year of the Pope's return there were more 
than 8000 political prisoners in the Papal jails, while 
the ignorant people were oppressed by heavy taxes 
and an army of clerical officials. 

It is probable that Pius IX. had no clearer perception 
of the state of Europe and Italy after the revolution of 
1849 than he had had in the earlier years. He devoted 
his attention to spiritual matters and listened, in tem- 
poral concerns, to the suave assurances of Antonelli. 
This pacified Europe was to be weaned from its bad 
dreams by a ctdt of the Sacred Heart, devotion to the 
Immactdate Conception of Mary, and so on. His first 
important act (September 29, 1850) was to re-estab- 
lish the hierarchy in England, to the great alarm and 
anger of the English Protestants. England had quickly 
lost its passing sympathy with the Papacy, and English 
travellers took home dreadful accoimts of the condition 
of the Papal States. The Pope does not seem to have 
been acquainted either with the disgust of the English 
at the state of his dominion or with the fact that the 
apparent restoration of the old faith in England meant 
little more than a vast immigration from famine-stricken 

404 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

He then applied himself to securing the dogma of the 
Immactdate Conception of Mary. From Gaeta in 
1849, while Mazzini and his colleagues ruled Rome and 
Antonelli struggled with the representatives of the rival 
Catholic Powers for his restoration, Pius had sent out 
some five himdred letters to the bishops of the world, 
inviting their opinion on the doctrine. It had long 
passed the stage of being a disputed academic thesis, 
and most of the replies were favourable. The Jesuits, 
who had become the special protagonists of the doctrine, 
fostered the native piety of the Pope, and on December 
8, 1854, it became a dogma of the Church.' 

In 1857 Pius made a tour of the Italian provinces. 
His chief purpose was to visit the Holy House of 
Loretto, but the intriguers of the Quirinal used the 
opportimity to enhance the Pope's illusion that only a 
few negligible fanatics quarrelled with the Papal 
government. In the previous year the diplomatists 
assembled at the Congress of Paris had censured that 
government in the most violent terms and demanded 
reform. It is hardly likely that their comments were 
put before the Pope, and care was taken that his recep- 
tion in the provinces should flatter his genial love of 
popularity. Inconvenient petitioners were refused ac- 
cess to him, and the clergy and more devout laity 
greeted him with applause. Gregorovius, who was then 
in Rome, notes in his Diary that Pius returned to the 
Quirinal full of joy ; and a few years later the inhabitants 
of these provinces would vote, by an overwhelming 
majority, for the abolition of the Papal government. 

In the following year the graver development of 

" The original documents relating to the Pope's actions will be found 
in the Acta Pit Noni, Acta Sancta Sedis, and Discorsi del Summo 
Poniefice Pio IX, (1872-8). 

Pius IX. 405 

Italian politics began. Napoleon III., whose protection 
of the corrupt Papal system had infuriated the Liberals, 
met Cavonr secretly at Plombidres and agreed, in case 
of attack by Austria, to help the King of Sardinia in his 
ambition; his reward would be the provinces of Nice 
and Savoy. The attempt by Orsini in the following 
January to assassinate Napoleon did not help the diplo- 
matists of the Vatican, as Cavour plausibly urged that 
the tyranny of the Papal States was responsible for the 
rebels who were scattered over Europe, and the struggle 
for the imity of Italy went on from year to year. The 
war between Sardinia and Austria broke out in the 
spring of 1859, and Austria was defeated at Magenta 
and retired from the Legations. These provinces were 
resolutely opposed to a return of clerical government, 
and Cavour, whose monarch was not yet prepared for 
war on the Papacy, sent one representative after another 
to persuade the Pope to permit the appointment of lay 
rulers of Parma, Modena, Tuscany, and Romagna, imder 
his suzerainty. Antonelli and Pius refused to make the 
least concession to the rebels, nor were the provincials 
disposed to assent to such a settlement. After some 
months of insurgence and bloody repression, a plebis- 
cite was organized in the Legations (March 11, i860) 
and an overwhelming majority voted for incorporation 
in the kingdom of Sardinia. In spite of the Pope's 
fulminations, Sardinia accepted the vote, and Napoleon 
received Nice and Savoy as the price of his acquiescence. 
Dismayed and perplexed by the futility of his appeals 
to the Catholic Powers and of the spiritual censures at 
his disposal, the Pope now invited volimteers, and 
crowds of imdisciplined Irish and French Catholics came 
to swell the little Papal army and fall with truculent 
piety on the rebellious districts. Garibaldi, on the other 

4o6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

hand, forced the halting designs of Cavour, and, with 
the cry of "Rome or Death," flung his irregular troops 
into the struggle. After a vain eflfort at peaceful 
settlement, Cavour, "in the interest of humanity," sent 
the Sardinian regulars into the Papal States, and the 
Pope's forces were destroyed in September at Castel 
Fidardo (in sight of the Holy House of Loretto) and 
Ancona. A plebiscite was organized in Umbria and the 
Marches, and there is no serious groimd to question 
that the figures published express the sentiment of the 
provinces. In Umbria 99,075 voted for Victor Em- 
manuel and 380 for the Pope: in the Marches 133,783 
voted for Sardinia and 12 12 for Rome. A large allow- 
ance for abstentions does not alter the significance of 
these figures. 

Pius still protected, by a conviction that the plebiscite 
had been fraudulent, his illusion that only a disreput- 
able minority resented his beneficent government, and 
the diplomacy of the Quirinal during the next ten years 
was the least enlightened that could have been devised 
for securing the slender remaining territory. Many 
cardinals, and even Antonelli, came to see that a re- 
cognition of Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy would 
be the wiser course, but Pius, supported by the Jesuits 
(who had foimded their CivUtd Cattolica, as an organ 
of Papal sentiment, in 1850), obstinately refused to 
temporize. He would have no negotiation with "the 
robbers," the excommunicated rebels against God. 
He retained — or the French troops still retained for him 
— only Rome and the Roman district, and proclaimed 
that he relied on Catholic Europe to restore his full 
rights. Years were spent in vain efforts to induce him 
to surrender his temporal power, or to recognize Victor 
Emmanuel as his "Vicar** in the kingdom of Italy, and 

Pius IX. 407 

in the meantime the Italian aspiration for Rome as a 
capital grew stronger, and the Pope's obstinate reten- 
tion of his temporal possessions was easily represented 
in an imfavourable light throughout Europe. The 
cardinals were not indifferent to the offer of 10,000 scudi 
a year and seats in the Italian Senate; and Antonelli 
was won by a promise of 3,000,000 scudi and rich gifts 
for his family. There can be little doubt that the 
rapid development of anti-clericalism in Italy diuing 
the sixties, and the growing disdain of Rome in England 
and France, would have been materially checked if the 
Pope had been more sagacious. He dreamed that the 
Catholic worid still shared the crusading fervour of 
the Middle Ages, and he was insensible of the selfish 
motives of France, Naples, and Austria. 

In the midst of the negotiations he committed the 
grave blunder of issuing his Encyclical Quanta Cura 
(December 8, 1864) with the famous accompanying 
Syllabus, or list of eighty condemned propositions. 
There is no need to analyze here that mediaeval indict- 
ment of the modern spirit. Many of the propositions 
are now commonplaces in the mind of every educated 
Catholic, and it is precisely their boast that — to use 
some of the condemned words — the Catholic Church 
may be reconciled with "progress, liberty, and the new 
civilization." The pages of the Civiltd Cattolica 
suflBciently indicate who were the Pope's imhappy 
inspirers. In brief, the doctmient convinced Europe 
that Rome insisted on being driven off the path of 
progress at the point of the bayonet, and in 1866 the 
French evactiated Rome, leaving the Pope only 2000 
mercenary soldiers, who were to don his uniform. 
When Garibaldi made his third impulsive inroad — the 
second, in 1862, had been arrested by the Piedmontese — 

4o8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

in October, 1867, the French arrested him, but the war 
of 1870 gave Italy its opportunity. On September 20, 
1870, the Italian troops entered the breach in the 
Roman walls, and the long and romantic story of the 
temporal power of the Popes was over. By the Law of 
Guarantees (May 15, 1871) Italy granted the Pope 
sovereign rights, with an annual income of 3,250,000 
lire and an extension of extraterritorial rights to certain 
Roman palaces. By a final error Pius refused to 
acknowledge his position, set up the melodramatic 
fiction of " the Prisoner of the Vatican, " and, by forbid- 
ding Catholics to take part in the elections of the new 
kingdom, allowed Italy to drift farther and farther 
away from his spiritual control. ' 

Meantime the famous Vatican Council had crowned 
his more purely ecclesiastical work. The idea of 
summoning the whole Christian world to a second and 
greater Trent, of healing religious dissensions and imit- 
ing religious forces against modernism, had dazzled 
the imagination of the Pope at Gaeta. His advisers 
encouraged him, and in 1865 he appointed a commission 
to discuss the subject. In 1867, when his heart was 
uplifted by the great gathering at Rome for the cele- 
bration of the (supposed) eighteenth centenary of the 
martyrdom of St. Peter, he announced the council, 
and in the following year (Jime 28, 1868) the Bull 
^terni Pairis invited all Christians — heretic and schis- 
matic, as well as orthodox — to the Vatican Coimcil of 
1869. It was opened on December 8th, when 719 
members assembled from the Catholic world. 

» In the plebiscite which was taken in the city of Rome 40,785 voted 
for incorporation and forty-six for the Pope: in the city and province 
I33i68i voted for incorporation and 1507 against. Naturally, the 
minority is not fully represented, as many refused to vote. 

Pius IX. 409 

The great issue — the one issue that may be discussed 
here — ^was the question of defining the infallibility of the 
Pope. Here again the Jesuits ardently supported the 
wish of Pius IX., and a struggle had taken place in 
the Catholic world for some years. It was known that 
such devout and influential priests as Newman in 
England, Bishop Dupanloup and Archbishop Darboy 
in France, and Bishop Ketteler and Cardinal Schwarz- 
enberg and D611inger in Germany, opposed the defini- 
tion, and the greatest care was taken in selecting 
members of the coimcil whose position did not make 
them entitled to sit in it. When Newman was proposed 
from England, Manning (an enthusiastic supporter of 
the Papal policy) and the Jesuits defeated the project, 
as Purcell has since established in his life of Manning. 
When, however, the seven himdred members of the 
coimcil had assembled, it was realized that between 
one himdred and fifty and two hundred voters regarded 
a definition of infallibility as inopportune, and the 
procedure and control of the council were diplomati- 
cally arranged. What Newman called " the aggressive, 
insolent faction" of the Infallibilists strained every 
nerve to destroy, the opposition. They drew up a 
petition to the Pope, and Pius was deeply annoyed to 
find that little over four hundred names appeared at its 
foot; and of the signatories the majority were prelates 
who lived at Rome in dependence on the Quirinal. 

But the familiar story need not be told again in 
detail. The debates were prolonged into the broiling 
summer, in spite of the remonstrances of the northern- 
ers, and the Pope's indignation at the minority was 
freely expressed. When, on July 13th, the vote was 
taken, 451 voted ''Aye," 62 voted a qualified "Aye" 
{Placet juxta modum), and 88 voted in opposi- 

4IO Crises in the History of the Papacy 

tion. Pius wavered, and was disposed to listen to 
counsels of compromise, but the majority pressed, and 
the stormy debate continued. The Inopportunists 
were reduced to silence, and at the final vote, on July 
1 8th, only two voted against the project; though 
many abstained from voting. Time has thrown a 
strange light on that historic struggle. On the one 
hand, it has transpired that the definition was drawn up 
in such terms that the controversialist could plausibly 
accommodate it with the known blimders of earlier 
Popes, and few followed the spirited revolt of DoUinger: 
en the other hand, the Papacy has from that day to this 
made no use of its infallibility, in an age of perplexing 
doubts, and the ardour of the Infallibilists has cooled. 
Diuing the following years the Pope sank once more 
into depression as the sittiation in Italy engendered 
grave troubles. Bible Societies and Protestant churches 
appeared in Italy, even in Rome, and Pius vainly de- 
notmced the monstrosity. Bishops dare not apply to 
the ItaUan government for their appointments, and 
had to remain without incomes and palaces. The 
Jesuits were expelled, and in 1872 a law of dissolution 
menaced the 8 151 members of religious houses in Rome 
and the provinces. Bavaria refused to publish the Bull 
Pastor ./EterntiSf and its struggle with the Church 
extended to Prussia and culminated in the long and 
bitter Ktdturkampf (1872- 1887). In France the anti- 
clerical Liberals gained from year to year on the Cath- 
olic reaction which had followed the Commune of 187 1, 
and Gambetta's battle-cry rallied the old forces in 
alarming numbers. In 1876 (November 6th) Anto- 
nelli died, and the grave scandal which disclosed his 
irregularities gave joy to the enemies of the Papacy. 
A last gleam of consolation came to the Pope in 1877, 

Pius IX. 411 

when the Catholic world held a magnificent celebration, 
on June 3d, of his episcopal jubilee. But the aged 
Pope saw no retreat of the disastrous forces he had 
encountered, and, after the longest and most calamitous 
rule in Papal history, he died on February 7, 1878. 

Little need be added in regard to his relations with 
other coimtries than France and Italy. The record is 
one of both successes and failures which were mistmder- 
stood at Rome : to the modem historian it is the record 
of the lapse of millions from the Roman allegiance. In 
the United States forty-four new dioceses were estab- 
lished between 1847 and 1877, yet the American prelates 
of the time bitterly lament the loss of himdreds of 
thousands of scattered Catholic immigrants. In Eng- 
land the Romeward movement within the English 
Church came to an end long before the death of Pius, 
and the Church made no numerical progress in excess 
of births and immigration. In Holland the hierarchy 
was peacefully restored, but in Switzerland there was 
such tension that the Internuncio was expelled in 1874. 
Russia severed relations with Rome in i860: Wurttem- 
berg (1861) and Baden (1859) signed Concordats with 
Rome, but found it impossible to maintain them: and 
the new German Empire was, as I said previously, 
involved by Bismarck and Falk in a bitter struggle with 

The relations with Catholic coimtries were little more 
satisfactory. Sardinia had mortally oflfended the 
Quirinal long before the struggle for Italian unity began : 
by a long series of anti-clerical measures it abolished 
tithes, laicised education and marriage, expelled the 
religious orders and confiscated their property, gave 
freedom of worship to Protestants, and dealt summarily 
with hostile bishops. Austria had signed in 1855 

412 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

(August 1 8th) a Concordat which was favourable to the 
Church, but the young Francis Joseph, whose education 
had been carefully directed in the clerical interest, was 
forced by the storm of opposition to deviate from it. 
It was abolished in 1870, and four years later laws were 
passed which the Vatican regarded as anti-clerical. 
Spain maintained, through its various revolutions, a 
consistent docility, and was the only country on which 
the dying eyes of the Pope could dwell with satisfaction. 
It contracted a favourable Concordat on March 16, 
185 1, which was supplemented in 1859. Portugal 
signed a . favourable Concordat in 1857. In Latin 
America on the other hand, the Church suffered grave 
reverses. Costa Rica and Gtiatemala (1852), Haiti 
(i860), Nicaragua (1861), and San Salvador, Honduras, 
Venezuela, and Ecuador (1862) signed satisfactory 
Concordats, but Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Uraguay, 
and Argentina entered upon anti-clerical ways, and the 
spirit of revolt against the clergy was spreading through- 
out Southern and Central America. Not since the 
days of Leo X. had the Church suffered such grave and 
widespread defection. 

In estimating the character of Pius IX. and his rela- 
tion to these losses the modern historian has little 
difficulty. The exaggerations of both his critics and 
his panegyrists are patent. He was a sincerely religious 
and zealous man, but the hope once entertained of his 
canonization (or, at least, beatification) was as absurd 
as the malevolent attacks on his character from the 
other side. His intellectual quality must be similarly 
judged: he had little penetration, no breadth of mind, 
no power to read aright the symptoms of his age. In 
considering the fatal obstinacy with which he refused all 
accommodation in regard to his temporal power, we 

Pius IX. 413 

must carefully bear in mind his religious views, and not 
merely dwell on his slight capacity for diplomacy or 
statesmanship. So grave a surrender could not be 
commended by a few years of revolution except to a 
man of greater insight and foresight than Pius IX. 
In, stun, he would in years of peace and piety have made 
an excellent and imdistinguished steward of the Papal 
heritage, but he was very far from having the greatness 
of mind which the circiunstances of the Church required, 
and the vast organization over which he so long pre- 
sided emerged still further weakened from its second 
historical crisis. It had fought Protestantism and lost : 
it had fought Democracy and Progress and lost. 
It remained for a wiser Pope to initiate the policy of 



WHEN Leo XIII. moimted the Pontifical throne, 
the Papacy had had three quarters of a century 
of disastrous experience of the reactionary policy. The 
Restoration of 1815 had seemed to inaugiu^te for Rome 
a new period of prosperity. The touching experiences 
of Pius VII. and the widely recognized need of combating 
by religious influence the new spirit of revolt disposed 
the monarchs of Europe, and a large part of their sub- 
jects, to regard the successor of Peter with respect. He 
had been their ally in resisting Napoleon : he was their 
ally in restoring feudalism. England moderated its 
fude tradition of **the Scarlet Woman." The Tsar of 
the Russias felt that Romanism was a large element 
in the spiritual renaissance he contemplated. Louis 
XVHI. remembered how altar and throne had fallen 
together. Ferdinand of Spain drowned the revolt in 
blood. Austria reconsidered its Febronianism. Italy 
seemed incapable of rebellion. 

But the revolutionary wave had retired only to come 
back with greater effect, and from 1830 to 1850 the face 
of Eui^ope was transformed. The Popes almost alone 
defied the spirit to which monarchs bowed, and they 
stood almost alone amid their ruins. England returned 

to its disdain : Russia and Switzerland angrily broke off 


Leo XIII. 415 

relations with the Vatican: Germany was engaged in 
what the Vatican regarded as a formidable eflfort to 
crush Catholicism in the new Empire. Austria was 
sullen and weakened. France was rapidly passing into 
its third and final revolt against Catholicism. Spain 
was forced into an alliance with the growing Liberals 
against the Carlists. Italy was overwhelmingly op- 
posed to the Papacy on what the Papacy declared to be 
a sacred and vital issue, and was honeycombed with 
Rationalism. Belgitmi was almost dominated by a 
Liberal middle class. The South American republics 
were falling away in succession. The two most pro- 
foundly Catholic peoples, Ireland and Poland, were 
ruined, and their children were scattered and seduced. 
Thus would any penetrating cardinal have interpreted 
the situation of the Church in 1878; yet, if his penetra- 
tion were great enough, he would see that there was a 
tendency among this Liberal middle class, which now 
dominated Europe, to seek once more an alliance with 
religion against the deeper social heresies which were 
appearing. Would the new Pope prove subtle enough 
to grasp that opportvmity and save the Church? His 
" infallibiUty " would avail little: he would be imwise 
to emphasize it. He must be a diplomatist and a 

The new Pope, Leo XIII., was nearly sixty-eight 
years old, and had had a better education in the history 
of the nineteenth century than most of the Italian 
cardinals had. Gioacchino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi 
Pecci was bom on March 2, 1810, at Carpineto. His 
first lesson, in the coimtry mansion, would be to hear his 
father; Colonel Pecci, and his very pious mother, a 
Tertiary of the Franciscan Order, talk of the Napoleonic 
nightmare that had just passed away. From the age 

4i6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

of eight to fourteen he was irnder the care of the Jesuits 
at Viterbo, and, as it was represented to him that the 
younger sons in so large a family had to look to the 
Church for their income, after some hesitation, he 
allowed them to tonsure him, at the age of eleven. * In 
1824 his mother died, and he went to study, still imder 
the Jesuits, at the Collegio Romano at Rome. He had 
conspicuous ability and high character, and besides 
improving his Latin — he already wrote Latin poems — 
he studied philosophy, mathematics, chemistry, and 
astronomy. He attracted attention, as clever boys 
attract the attention of the clergy, and was directed 
toward the clerical career. He must enter the "Acad- 
emy for Noble Ecclesiastics," said one prelate; and, 
with the aid of his brothers, he drew up a genealogical 
tree to prove that his father, the easy-going colonel of 
Carpineto, was descended from the mediaeval Pecci 
of Siena. The Academy did not pronotmce his proof 
valid — the connexion is probable enough — but, on his 
merits, and in view of his important patrons, admitted 
him among the nobles of Anagni (1831). 

Joachim — ^he had called himself Vincenzo until 1832 — 
took a degree in theology, and told his brothers that he 

« In a letter to his brother Charles, July 3, 1837, he remarks that he 
has entered the clergy "in order to carry out the wishes of his father." 
Catholic lives of Leo XIII., which abound, must be read with discretion. 
They are even more tendentious than lives of Pius IX., and the best of 
them — by Mgr. de T'Serclaes (2 vols., 1894), L. K. Goetz (1899), J. 
de Narfon (1899), Mgr. B. O'Reilly (1903), and P. J. O'Byme (1903)— 
are very unreliable. Mr. Justin McCarthy's short Pope Leo XIII, 
(1896) is a summary of these, and shares their defects. With them 
should be read Joachim Pecci (1900) by Henri dcs Houx, for the period 
before his election, and Le Conclave de Lion XIII, (1887) by Raphael de 
Cesare: both Catholic writers, but more candid and discriminating. 
Sec also Boyer d'Agen, La Jeunesse de Lion XI 11. (1896) and Mon- 
signor Joachim Pecci (19 10) and works to be mentioned hereafter. 

Leo XIIL 417 

was going to illtimine their ancient family. He still 
loved to take a flintlock musket over the hills during his 
holidays, but he indulged in no dissipations and became 
pale and thin over the books which were to help his 
ambition. His father died in 1836, and it is in his naive 
letters to his brothers that we discover the himian 
elements ignored by his eloquent biographers.* He 
begins to follow politics, in the most ardent Papal 
spirit. Cardinal Pacca, the intransigeant, recommended 
the pale, slim yoimg cleric to Gregory XVI., and in 1837 
he was appointed domestic prelate. Cardinal Sala 
also befriended the yoimg Monsignore, and he went from 
one small office to another. Sala pointed out that for 
further advancement he must become a priest, and he 
became a priest (December 31, 1837); but his letters 
make it clear that he entered the priesthood in a mood 
of such exalted piety that Sala feared he was about to 
quit the world and become a Jesuit. 

About a month after his ordination (February 2, 
1838) he was appointed Apostolic Delegate (Civil 
Governor) of Benevento, where the brigandage which 
disgraced the Papal States was particularly rabid. In 
three years, with the aid of a skilful chief of police, he 
almost suppressed brigandage and smuggling, and did 
much for the province. His progress was not so hero- 
ically triumphant as the biographers represent. In 
his letters to his brothers he complains that his predeces- 
sor has robbed the treasury and they must help him: 
that his ninety-seven ducats a month do not enable him 
to have the fine horses and carriage he needs: and, 
later (in 1839), that the clerics at Rome are plotting to 
cheat him of the higher promotion which he deserves. 
In 1 84 1 the Pope transferred him to Perugia, and he 

' These are chiefly repxxxluced in the works of Boyer d'Agen. 

4i8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

did good work in reforming education, fotinding a bank 
for small traders, and so on. 

In Jantiary, 1843, his real education b^[an. He was 
appointed Nuncio at Brussels and was made titular 
Archbishop of Damietta. Able as he was, the promo- 
tion to so important an ofRce was premature. Of 
French (or any languages but Latin and Italian) he 
knew not a syllable until he set out, and with the mod- 
em thought which was then current in Brussels he was 
acquainted only by means of the version of it given by 
Pius IX. in the Syllabus, of which he fully approved. 
His handsome presence and amiable ways carried him 
far. There is an almost boyish expression on his face 
at this period : on the long, thin, smiling face and bright 
eyes and soft sensuous mouth. King Leopold, a 
Protestant, liked him, and allowed the yoimg arch- 
bishop to attract him to religious functions and persuade 
him of the importance of religion in appeasing social 
ambitions. Pecci, in turn, could not contemplate the 
gas-lit streets, the railways, the postal system, etc., of 
Belgiimi, without realizing that the Papal States would 
have to admit something of this modem thought. But 
he was for a safe modernism, consistent with the Quanta 
Cura and the Syllabus. He was suave to all: even to 
the rebellious Gioberti, who was then giving Italian 
lessons in Brussels. To this period of his career belongs 
the good story of a naughty Liberal marquis, who ven- 
tured to offer him a pinch of snuff from a box which was 
adorned with a nude Venus, and the Archbishop is said 
to have taken it and asked: ''Madame la marquise?" 
Secretly, however, he urged the Catholics to organize 
a struggle against the Liberals. The Liberals wanted 
a compromise on the school-question, and, when the 
Ntmcio assisted in defeating it, the Premier Deschamps 



Leo XIII. 419 

wrote contemptuously to Rome that they would like 
a Nuncio who was " a statesman. " As, about the same 
time, the bishopric of Perugia fell vacant and the Peru- 
gians asked for their former Delegate, Gregory recalled 
Pecci. His disappointment — ^which he plainly ex- 
presses in his letters — ^was softened only by the Pope's 
assurance that the transfer would be regarded as 
"equal to promotion to a nunciature of the first class"; 
in other words, he remained on the path to the cardi- 
nalate, as he desired. ' 

Prom Brussels he brought a warm testimonial written 
by King Leopold, and he spent a month in London 
(where he had an interview with the Queen) and some 
weeks in Paris. He reached Rome in May (1846), to 
find Gregory dying, and he witnessed the election of 
Pius IX., and, at Perugia, applauded the early "h'ber- 
alism" of the Pope. Perugia had a large share of the 
advanced thinkers who now overran Italy, and the 
Bishop would assuredly become more closely acquainted 
with their ideas. From his later encyclicals, however, 
one must suppose that he never made a profound study 
of their claims, either on the intellectual or the social 
side. Of philosophy he had only the mediaeval version 
given him in the Collegio Romano and the Sapienza, 
and of economics or sociology he knew nothing. Such 
science as he knew — the elements of chemistry and 
astronomy — ^was easily reconcilable with religion, and 
this gave him an apparently liberal attitude toward 
science. On the other hand, he had genuine sympathies 
and he felt that the new aspirations of the working class 

'See the doctiments in Henri des Houx, pp. 166-7, and Mgr. de 
T'Serclaes, vol. i., pp. 127-132. Most biographers grossly misrepresent 
his "promotion." Rome plainly decided that he was not suitable for 
a nunciature. 


420 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

were not to be met with a sheer rebuff. ' The ideas of 
Gioberti and Ventura appealed to him. Even when 
Gioberti had fallen out of favour at the Quirinal, 
Archbishop Pecci, when he passed through Perugia in 
1848, gave him hospitality in his palace. Henri des 
Houx affirms that he heard on good authority that for 
this Pius IX. suspended the Archbishop from pontifical 
duties for several weeks. Later, he incurred suspicion by 
permitting a memorial service at the death of Cavour. 
It is admitted by the leading Catholic biographers that 
he was in bad odour at the Quirinal. The promised 
cardinal's hat was withheld for eight years" and his 
great ability was wasted on a provincial bishopric. 
The slight is ascribed to the jealousy of Cardinal Anto- 
nelli, and his advance after the Secretary's death 
confirms the suspicion. 

It is, however, plain that Pecci was a most excellent 
Bishop, and that he was no more ''Liberal" than Pius 
IX. in his first year. He strictly organized the work and 
education of the clergy, restored the seminary and built 
a College of St. Thomas, foimded many schools, 
churches, and hospitals, brought Brothers of Mercy and 
nims from Belgium, and opened a branch of the St. 
Vincent de Paul ^Society. He left a fine record of re- 
ligious-social work, and the orthodox poor loved him. 
Yet we must set aside the exaggerations of biographers. 
Pecci cherished the purely Papal ideal and was out of 
touch with the majority of his people. In 1859, when 
a group of rebels set up a '* Provisional Government" 
at Perugia, he nervously shut himself in his palace for 
two days and, without a protest, allowed the ferocious 

' His episcopal pronouncements are given in Scella di AUi episcopdU dd 
Cardinale G, Pecci (1879). 

* He was made cardinal on December 19, 1853. 

Leo XIIL 421 

Swiss Guard sent by Antonelli to wear themselves out 
in an orgy of slaughter and pillage. A few months later 
Sardinia expelled the Papal troops, and, when a plebis- 
cite was taken, 97,000 voted for incorporation in the 
kingdom of Sardinia, and only 386 voted against. The 
Archbishop protested emphatically and consistently 
against the seizure of the Pope's temporal power, and, 
when the hated laws of Sardinia were successively 
applied to Perugia (on civil marriage, the suppression 
of the religious orders, military service for clerics, etc.), 
he continued to protest in the warmest language. In 
1862 he suspended three priests who adopted the Italian 
cause, and was cited before the civil tribunal ; but the 
case was allowed to lapse. We know that he was care- 
fully watched from the Quirinal, and that he had an 
informant of his own at the Curia,' but his pronounce- 
ments and letters make it abtmdantly clear that he 
never swerved from the strict Papal conception of 
contemporary thought and politics. 

Antonelli died in December, 1876, and (as is ignored 
by most of his biographers) Pecci very shortly went to 
live at Rome — long before he was appointed Chamber- 
lain. He had an able coadjutor in the bishopric, and 
he pleaded his age and increasing wpakness. He lived 
in the modest Falconieri Palace, and trusted to get a 
suburbicarian bishopric. To his annoyance, two which 
fell vacant in the next few weeks were given by Pius 
to others, but at length, in August, the Pope appointed 
him Camerlengo (Chamberlain). In that capacity he 
had, the following February, to tap the dead Pope 
on the forehead with a hammer and to arrange the 

' Mgr. Cataldi, whom he afterwards made his master of ceremonies. 
H. des Houx (p. 329) observes that, when Cataldi died, his papers were , 
put under seal by Leo's orders and his letters have never been published. 

422 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Conclave. He was not widely known at Rome, and 
few foresaw his elevation to the throne. It is, in fact, 
probable that Pius IX. had made him Camerlengo, not 
in order to exclude him from the Papacy, but because 
he was not likely to be required for it. Since Alexander 
VI. no Chamberlain had been elected Pope. There 
were, however, shrewd observers who predicted his rise, 
and little surprise was expressed when, after the third 
scrutiny, on February 20th, he secured forty-four out of 
the sixty-one votes. We may set aside romantic specu- 
lations about the Conclave. A few cardinals perceived 
that the Church needed in its ruler just such a combina- 
tion of clear intelligence, broad knowledge, and diplo- 
matic temper as Cardinal Pecci possessed, and he was 
sufficiently sotmd on Papal politics to disarm the more 
conservative. It is not impossible that waverers 
reflected as they gazed on the worn white frame of the 
cardinal, that, whatever policy he adopted, Leo XIII. 
would not long rule the Church. 

The Liberal press had recalled his friendship with 
Gioberti and his permission of a service in memory of 
Cavour, but Leo quickly reassured the more rigid 
cardinals. The crowd gathered in the great square to 
receive the blessing of the new Pope, yet hour followed 
hour without his making an appearance. R. de Cesare 
shows that the Italian Government was prepared, not 
only to preserve order, but to render military honours 
if he appeared on the balcony. The intransigeant 
cardinals opposed it, and four hours later he gave the 
blessing inside St. Peter's. Similarly with his corona- 
tion. It is imtrue that the Italian Government refused 
to take measures to preserve order if he were, as was 
usual, crowned in St. Peter's. On the advice of the 
more conservative cardinals he chose to be crowned in 

Leo XIII. 423 

semi-privacy in the Sistine Chapel on March 3d.' 
Indeed when, on February 22d, he had been compelled 
to go to his late palace for his papers, he crossed Rome 
in the utmost secrecy. He would, like Pius, have "no 
truck with the robbers. " To the Kaiser, the Tsar, and 
the Swiss President he had written on the day of his 
election to say that he looked forward to more friendly 
relations, but in his first Consistory, on March 28th, he 
assured the cardinals that there would be no reconcilia- 
tion with Italy, and on April 28th he issued his first 
Encyclical, Inscrutabile^ in which, besides asserting the 
claim of the temporal power, he described Europe, in 
more graceful terms than Pius, yet in the same spirit, 
as filled with a "pestilential virus" and nearing death 
unless it speedily took the antidote of Papal obedience. 
There was to be no truck with "the new civilization" 

Yet Leo XIII. has passed into contemporary history 
as the great "reconciler of differences," in Carlyle's 
phrase: the man who, by a superb diplomacy and a 
fortunate conjtmction of character and genius, rescued 
the Church from the dangerous position in which Pius 
IX. had left it and raised it to a higher level of prestige 
and power. The historian must make allowance for 
contemporary enthusiasm. Probably most rulers of 
ability and character have left that impression among 
the generation which witnessed their death. Leo, more- 
over, as befitted a temperate and high-minded man, 
excited no bitter opposition. All the current biographies 
of him are from Catholic pens : few of them even pre- 
tend to have the candour and balance of historical 
writers. Leo's story is still to be written. It suflBces 
here to remark that the forces he most fiercely com- 

' See de Cesare, pp. 138-144. 

424 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

bated — Socialism and Rationalism — ^made during his 
Pontificate a progress out of all proportion to the 
increase of population: that the Church of Rome ac- 
tually decreased, if we take accotmt of the growth of 
population: and that "modernism" within the Church 
became the customary attitude of cultivated Catholics. 
Among the most potent facts of his Pontificate are the 
facts that France, to retain which he made grave 
sacrifices, was entirely lost to the Church: that Italy, 
which he defied, has established its position with abso- 
lute security and abandoned its creed to a remarkable 
extent: that Portugal, Spain, and Spanish- America 
have witnessed a similar spread of revolt: that in 
England, Germany, and America there has been no 
progress other than increase by births and immigration : 
that Leo's effort to check Socialism by a Christian 
social zeal failed and was almost abandoned by him in 
his later years: and that his attempt to impose St. 
Thomas of Aquin on modem thought and his design 
of directing modem Scriptural research have only 
embarrassed the scholars of his Church. He was one 
of the great men of his great age, the ablest Pope in 
three htmdred years: but he failed. He made no 
impression whatever on what he called the "diseases'* 
of modern thought and life, and he left his Church 
numerically weaker — in proportion to the increase of 
population — than he found it. ' 

His policy in Italy is almost invariably described as 
being conciliatory without sacrificing the Papal claim. 

' The losses of the Church are analyzed by the author, and Catholic 
authority is quoted in most cases, in The Decay of the Church of Rome 
(2d ed. 1910). In France alone the loss was about 25,000,000. His 
Papal pronouncements are collected in Leonis XIII, P. M, Acta (17 
vols., 1 881-1898), SS. D, N. Leonis XIII. allocutiones, etc .(8 vols., 1887- 
19 10), and Discorsi del SummoPontefUe Leont XIII, (1882). 

Leo XIII. 425 

We cannot regard as entirely amiable a policy of re- 
minding the Italian monarchy and statesmen, every 
few years, that they are sacrilegious and excommuni- 
cated thieves, and it is surely now clear that Leo erred 
in maintaining the attitude of Kus and forbidding 
Catholics to take part in the elections. The Catholic 
EncyclopcBdia imputes to him the remarkable expecta- 
tion that the revolutionary elements in Italy would, if 
not checked by the Catholic vote, win power at the 
polls and the government would seek the aid of the 
Vatican ; and the writer describes this as a miscalcula- 
tion which Pius X. was obliged to correct.* Indeed the 
one wise move on the part of Leo XIII. in regard to 
Italy is either suppressed or discussed with strained 
scepticism by Catholic writers. During the first few 
years after his coronation Leo continued to protest 
against the wickedness of the world in general and of 
Italy in particular. In 1881 he had a singular and 
unpleasant proof of the resentment of Rome. On July 
13th the remains of Pius IX. were transferred to the 
Church of St. Lawrence, where he wished to be buried, 
and, the government feeling that a public ceremony 
would lead to disorder, the translation was to be secret 
and nocturnal. But the ''secret" was carefully di- 
vulged before the hour, and a vast crowd of the faith- 
ful assembled to do homage to the Papa-Re. The 
rougher anti-clericals were thus stimulated to make an 
unseemly protest, and Leo took occasion again to pro- 
test to the Catholic Powers that his position was 

On April 24, 1881, the Pope lu-ged the Catholic 
Associations to enter the field of mimicipal politics, and 
in the following year he, in the Encyclical Etsi nos 

•Article "Leo XIII." 

4^6 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

(February 5th), and on the occasion of the death of 
Garibaldi Qune 2d) , again made severe attacks upon 
Italy. The friction increased. In July (1882) Leo 
had to protest that bishops, not recognizing the govern- 
ment, received no incomes or palaces, and that monks 
and nims who endeavoured to evade the law of sup- 
pression were hardly treated. Then a dismissed 
employee of the Vatican brought an action against the 
Pope in the Italian court, and though the action was 
dismissed, the court claimed jurisdiction, and Leo made 
a heated protest to France and Austria. In 1884 the 
Propaganda was compelled to invest its money in 
Italian f imds, and the Pope, after the customary protest, 
set up a nimiber of procurators in foreign countries to 
whom the faithful might send their offerings. In 1886 
the anti-clerical campaign became more violent; tithes 
were abolished, and many Italian Catholics began to 
desire reconciliation. Italy entered into the Triple 
Alliance with Austria and Germany, and henceforward 
appeals to the ** Catholic" Powers were obviously futile. 
France itself had by this time an anti-clerical govern- 
ment and majority, and German and Austrian Catholics 
bitterly resented the Italian attack on the Triple 

In February, 1887, Cardinal Jacobini, the Secretary of 
State, died, and Cardinal RampoUa entered upon his 
famous career. Leo openly directed the new Secretary 
to insist on the restoration of the temporal power, and 
ordered that the Rosary be recited nightly in the 
churches of Rome. But in the course of that year 
there was a change in the Vatican policy, though, since 
it was unsuccessful, it is usually concealed or called 
into question. Crispi himself revealed, a few years 
later, that there were negotiations for a settlement 

Leo XIII. 427 

between the Vatican and the Quirinal, and that Prance, 
irritated by the Triple Alliance, threatened to put 
greater pressure on its Church unless the Pope withdrew 
from the negotiations.* Mgr. de T'Serclaes virtually 
admits the fact, and conjectures that Crispi wanted 
Italy to have a share in the approaching celebration of 
the Pope's Jubilee. We have no right to question 
Crispi's assurance that France intervened, and that the 
Vatican was willing to hear of compromise. The Papal 
authorities, however, concealed the tmsuccessful offer 
and returned to the earlier attitude. The Pope's 
sacerdotal Jubilee was celebrated in 1888 with immense 
rejoicings, and the anti-clericals retorted with fresh 
legislation. In 1889 a statue of Giordano Bruno was 
erected at Rome. It is said that Leo XIII. spent the 
hours of the demonstration in tears at the foot of the 
altar, and that he had some idea of leaving Rome. 
The gates of the Vatican were carefully watched, and 
there was great excitement in Rome when it was 
annoimced that he had actually passed over a few yards 
of Roman territory — to visit the studio of a sculptor 
near the Vatican. But the Pope cltmg to his theory of 
being imprisoned in the Vatican, and the remaining 
years were like the earlier: anathema on one side, dis- 
dain and defiance on the other. When he died, the 
laity of Rome itself had become so largely anti-clerical 
that Catholic Deputies to the Chamber did not care to 
be seen going to mass, and in the north Socialism was 
advancing at a remarkable pace. 

In Germany, on the other hand, Leo won consider- 
able success, though his biographers describe it inac- 
curately. The Kulturkampf was at its height when Leo 
was elected, and he at once wrote a firm and courteous 

» ComUtnporary Review, 1891 (vol. k., 161). 

4^8 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

letter to the Emperor, trusting that peace would be 
restored. In his cold and ironical reply (evidently 
written by Bismarck) the Emperor observed that there 
would be peace when the Pope directed the clergy to 
obey the laws, and Leo retorted (April 17, 1878) 
that the laws were inconsistent with the Catholic con- 
science. But circimistances favoured the Pope. Two 
attempts were made to assassinate the Emperor, and he 
directed Bismarck to see that rebellious impulses in the 
yoimg were checked by rehgious education. It seems 
clear that the Emperor had begim to dislike the struggle 
with the Church, and by this time Bismarck himself 
must have seen that persecution had led only to the 
better organization and greater energy of the Catholics, 
while his policy was threatened from another side by 
the rapid advance of Social Democracy. The Papal 
Ntmcio at Mimich, Mgr. Aloisi-Masella, was invited 
to Berlin. He was instructed from Rome to decline the 
invitation, and Bismarck arranged a "wayside inn'* 
meeting at Kissingen. As Bismarck insisted on the 
government retaining a veto on all ecclesiastical 
appointments, the negotiations broke down, and little 
progress was made when they were resumed by the 
Vienna Ntmcio and Prince von Reuss. 

In the following year Falk, the framer of the famous 
May Laws, resigned, and the Vatican resimied its 
efforts. On February 24, 1880, the Pope informed the 
Archbishop of Cologne that the government might 
have a restricted veto on the ordinations of priests if 
it would grant an amnesty — eight out of twelve bishops 
were still in exile or prison — and modify the laws. 
Bismarck refused, but there was some relaxation of the 
laws. In 1 88 1 several bishops were appointed, and in 
1882 Bismarck voted funds for a German representa- 

Leo XIIL 429 

tive at the Vatican. It was, however, at once dis- 
covered that the bargain put the Pope in a di- 
lemma. Bismarck demanded that Leo shotdd direct 
the Alsatian clergy to submit, but, though the Pope 
promised that he wotdd **see to it," he dared not 
interfere. In 1884 diplomatic relations were form- 
ally restored. Several bishops returned from exile, 
and episcopal incomes were restored ; but the amnesty 
was not extended to the Archbishop of Cologne 
and the Archbishop of Gnesen and Posen, and Catholic 
students were not allowed to go to Louvain, Rome, or 

In 1885 Bismarck made a fiuther step by inviting the 
Pope to mediate between Germany and Spain in their 
quarrel for the possession of the Caroline Islands. It 
is said that Bismarck was entrapped into this by a 
Catholic journalist announcing that Spain was about to 
make the invitation. However that may be, the invita- 
tion flattered the Vatican, and the two rebellious arch- 
bishops were "persuaded" by the Pope to resign. The 
German CathoKcs were now beginning to murmur 
against the Pope, and the negotiations proceeded slowly, 
but in 1886 Bismarck bluntly denounced the May Laws, 
and it was proposed to modify them. Shortly after- 
wards, however, it appeared that the Pope had conveyed 
an impression that he would pay a high price (besides 
the veto on priests) for the surrender. The Centre 
Party opposed Bismarck's new law of military service, 
and he appealed to Rome. RampoUa, through the 
Bavarian Ntmcio, directed the Catholic members to 
desist, but, to the equal dismay of the Chancellor and 
the Pope, they refused to obey and caused a dissolution 
of the Reichstag. Their leader. Baron Frankenstein, 
replied to the Bavarian Ntmcio that they took orders 

430 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

from Rome only in ecclesiastical matters. ' Bismarck, 
in his anger, got copies of the letters and published them. 
What followed we can only gather from the sequel. 
The Centre withdrew its opposition, the military law 
was passed, and the May Laws were modified. German 
Liberals beheld the strange spectacle of the Iron 
Chancellor, in the Reichstag, indignantly denying that 
the Pope was a ''foreign power, " who ought not to inter- 
vene in German affairs. 

No further concessions were won from Germany — 
the Jesuits are still excluded — but since 1887 the Church 
in that coimtry has enjoyed comparative peace and 
prosperity. William II. acceded to the throne in 1888, 
and from the first he insisted on friendly relations with 
Rome. On three occasions (1888, 1893, and 1903) he 
visited Leo at the Vatican. Bismarck retired in 1890, 
after a final defeat by the Centre Party. The money 
due to the bishops (whose incomes had been suspended) 
now amounted to more than £400,000, and Bismarck 
invited the Pope to compromise in regard to it. Leo 
refused; the government must settle the matter with 
the Catholics of Germany, he said. In the later debate 
in the Reichstag the Minister of Worship heatedly 
denounced the Pope for duplicity, but the Centre had 
its way and the whole sum was restored to the bishops. 
It is further claimed, though without documentary 
evidence, that the Emperor's visit to the Vatican in 
1893 was for the purpose of urging the Pope to order 
the members of the Centre to support the new military 
laws. In the sequel the Catholic members were divided 
and the laws passed. But documents on these recent 
events will not reach the eye of this generation, and we 
cannot be sure how far the KuUurkampJ was abandoned 

' See the documents relating to the episode in T'Serclaes, i., 425. 

Leo XIII. 431 

as a reward for Papal support of Germany's military 
policy. On the other hand, the alliance in hostility 
to Socialism has proved a failure. The Catholic vote 
at the polls fell, during Leo's Pontificate, from 27.9 per 
cent, of the total vote to 19.7 (in 1903) : the Social 
Democratic vote increased nearly tenfold. ' 

In France the policy of the Pope was correct and 
particularly unsuccessful. A few years after the fall of 
the Papal States the number of professing Catholics in 
France arose to about thirty millions in a nation of 
thirty-six millions; and the sincerity of a very large 
proportion may be judged from the fact that nearly 
two thirds of the Papal income from Peter's Pence 
(which rose to nearly half a million sterling a year) 
came from French Catholics. Yet when Leo died, the 
professing Catholics had fallen to about six millions in a 
population of thirty-nine millions. We must beware of 
ascribing this failure to Leo XIII., though undoubtedly 
he never exhibited a sound knowledge or statesmanlike 
grasp of the situation in Prance. That coimtry was 
developing along anti-clerical lines, and no Pope or 
prelate could have diverted it. Leo was absorbed in the 
superficial struggle of royalists and republicans until 
the serious development had proceeded too far. In 
the later seventies the anti-dericals began to assert 
their rapidly growing power and influence legislation. 
The Jesuits were again expelled, and education further 
withdrawn from Catholic control. The Pope followed 
the development in helpless concern until October 
22, 1880, when, at the demand of the French faithful, 
he passed his censure. The Republican authorities 

' On the relations of Rome and the Centre compare Count von Hoens- 
breech's Rom und das ZerUrum (19 10). There are also curious details 
in the same writer's Fourteen Years a Jesuit (Engl, trans. 191 1). 

43^ Crises in the History of the Papacy 

paid no heed and in 1883 Leo sent a protest to President 
Gr6vy. In a cold and indiflEerent reply the President 
pointed out that the Catholic clergy could expect little 
favour from a Republican institution which they con- 
stantly attacked, and the Pope's attention was forcibly 
drawn to the royalist agitation which divided the Church 
and fed the anti-clerical campaign against it. We 
must conclude that Leo, like so many Catholics, mis- 
calculated the recuperating power of royalism, besides 
fearing to offend a powerful section of the clergy and 
laity, as he still hesitated to direct Catholics to submit 
to the Republic. For a time he trusted that the demo- 
cratic movement headed by the Comte de Mim would 
bring relief, but it increased the confusion, and on 
February 16, 1892, Leo issued his famous Encyclical, 
urging the French Catholics to submit to the Republic 
and assail only its anti-clerical laws. The royalists 
sulked: in one diocese the Peter's Pence offerings fell 
from £60,000 to £35,000. Even the Panama Scandal 
in 1893 failed to yield any advantage, and the Church 
completed its series of blimders by adopting the crusade 
against Dreyfus. In his later years Leo could but 
helplessly look on while Waldeck-Rousseau and Combes 
disestablished and debilitated the Church. Even within 
the Church he was compelled to witness an immense 
advance of the "Americanism" which he detested.' 
In Belgiimi the political circimistances were more 
favourable to the plans of the Vatican. In the summer 
of 1879 the Liberals passed a law for the secularization 
of the elementary schools, and the Catholics complained 
that the Pope, who blamed the violence of their lan- 

* See E. Barbier, Le Progrhs du lihhalisme Caiholique en France sous U 
Pape Lion XIII. (1907) and A. Houtin, Histoire du Modemisme Catho- 
lique (1913). 

Leo XIII. 433 

guage, failed to discharge his office with due severity. 
In point of fact, Leo was working so diplomatically, 
assuring the King that the clergy must respect the civil 
authority and separately encouraging the clergy to 
resist "iniquitous" laws, that the government at length 
publicly taxed him with dupUcity and withdrew its 
representative from Rome. In 1885, however, the 
Catholics returned to power, and, enjoying the advan- 
tage of a division of the hostile forces (Liberals and 
Socialists), estabKshed a lasting influence in the country. 

Austria, on the other hand, proved imsatisfactory to 
the Vatican. From the day of its alliance with Italy 
the Roman officials looked with annoyance on Austria, 
and the consistent tone of Mgr. de T'Serclaes' references 
to it reflect the Vatican attitude. A letter which the 
Pope wrote to the bishops of Hungary in 1886, urging 
them to resist the new and imecclesiastical laws in 
regard to marriage and education, was construed as a 
wish to cause trouble in Austria, or between Austria 
and Italy, and the same murmurs arose when Leo 
xirged the Austrian clergy to resist further Liberal laws 
in 1890. The laws were carried, and the protests of 
the Pope were disregarded. In Spain the Pope was 
more fortimate, as he curbed the disposition of the clergy 
to adopt the ill-fated Carlist cause. ^ Portugal remained 
outwardly faithful, and a Concordat granted by the 
King in 1886 permitted the Pope to effect a much needed 
reform in the ecclesiastical administration of India. 
Some advantages were won, also, in Switzerland, where 
the older hostility was checked, and the Church pros- 

The relations of the Vatican with Russia were singu- 

» See M. Tirado y Rojas, Lean XIII, y EspaHa (1903), for details in 
regard to Spain. 


434 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

lar, and gave rise to bitter complaint among the Cath- 
olic subjects of the Tsar. To the amiable letter in 
which Leo announced his election the Tsar gave a cold 
and discouraging reply. In 1879, however, the attempt 
on the Tsar's life gave Leo an opportunity to insinuate 
his belief that only Catholic influence could curb these 
criminal impulses; and when Alexander II. was assas- 
sinated in 1883, he approached his successor with more 
success. In the succeeding years of diplomatic inter- 
course the repression of the Catholic Poles was partly 
relieved; but no concession was made when the Pope 
presented to the Tsar the petition of the Ruthenian 
Catholics in 1884, or when he deprecated the exile of the 
Bishop of Wilna in 1885. In 1888, however, Russia 
approached the Vatican through Vienna, and the nego- 
tiations have given rise to acute controversy. The 
Poles murmured that the Pope was disposed to betray 
their national interests in order to please France by 
obliging its virtual ally, Russia. How far the Pope 
was preparing to enforce on the Poles the Russian 
demands — for a more extensive use of the Russian 
language in Poland and for a surrender of the offspring 
of mixed marriages — and to what extent he realized the 
true designs of Russia, cannot be confidently deter- 
mined. It is clear only that he meditated concession, 
and the suspicion that he thus sought a political ad- 
vantage in France is not implausible. 

A similar complaint arose among that other shattered 
Catholic nation, the Irish. The Pamellite movement 
of the eighties, it was said, was used by him as a means 
of accommodating and conciliating England; and there 
is little room for doubt that this design influenced his 
policy. It was one of the general lines of his campaign 
in Europe to persuade rulers that the power of his 

Leo XIII. 435 

Church would be their greatest guarantee of docility. 
In 1 88 1 he warned Archbishop McCabe that the dis- 
turbances of public order in Ireland were not to be 
favoured, and he made the hint more explicit in the 
following year. In 1883 he gravely disturbed the Irish 
Catholics by issuing a drastic condemnation of the 
Pamell Testimonial Fund and forbidding the clergy to 
work for it; while Errington was amiably received at 
the Vatican. The disturbance became graver, and in 
1885 Leo simimoned the Irish bishops to Rome. Even 
their representations failed to disturb his policy, and 
on April 13, 1888 (after a Roman envoy, Mgr. 
Persico, had been sent on the quaint mission of studying 
the situation in Ireland) , a decree of the Holy Office con- 
demned the **Plan of Campaign." So loud were the 
murmurs at this invasion of the political rights of the 
Irish that an Encyclical (^Scepe Nos) had to be dispatched 
on June 24 to secure the submission of the bishops. 
We may at least discover some penetration in the Pope's 
confidence that Ireland would not permanently resent 
the abuse of his authority. 

The advantage gained in England was slight. The 
broad stream of immigration from Ireland since 1840, 
which had given the illusion of a rapid growth of Cathol- 
icism, and the more slender stream which is associated 
with the Oxford Movement, had materially lessened, 
and a period of loss had begtm (in proportion to the 
increase of population). For nearly two decades the 
Pope was content with domestic meastu-es like the regu- 
lation of the conflicts between monks and bishops 
(May 8, 1881) and the establishment of an hierarchy 
in India. On April 20, 1895, he took a bolder step, 
and in the Encyclical Ad Anglos invited the English 
people to renew their ancient allegiance to Rome. 

436 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Undismayed by the absence of a response, he, on Sep- 
tember 13, 1896, issued the famous Encyclical Apos- 
toliccB CurcB, in which he assailed the validity of orders 
in the English Church. The brisk controversy which 
ensued does not concern us; but we may assume 
that, from the figures at the disposal of the Vati- 
can, the Pope would sadly realize, when the century 
drew to a close, that the Catholic Church in England 
had not increased, beyond the natural growth by 
births and immigration, during his long and laborious 

In the United States Leo had a thorny task. With 
his keen scent for Socialistic insurgence against con- 
stituted authority, he proposed, in 1887, to condemn the 
730,000 American CathoUc workers who were incor- 
porated in the * * ICnights of Labour. " Cardinal Gibbon 
defended them, and a grudging toleration was issued 
from Rome. In 1893 the Pope sought to improve his 
relations with the Republic by taking a handsome part 
in the fourth centenary of the discovery of America, 
but by that time a grave struggle had begun to rend 
the cosmopolitan Church in the States. Americans 
naturally resented the Germanism of the German 
Catholic schools, and in 1892 Archbishop Ireland 
consented to hand over to the School Board some of 
these elementary schools, on condition that the Catholic 
teachers were retained and hours were assigned for 
religious instruction. The Germans and the Ultramon- 
tanes raised the cry that Ireland and Gibbon were 
favouring the ** godless schools" of the Republic, and 
denounced the plan to Rome. Again the Cardinal and 
the Archbishop won a grudging tolerari posse (**may be 
tolerated in the circumstances*') but a fierce agitation 
went on in the American Church, and the Pope's 

Leo XIII. 437 

representative, Mgr. Satolli, was vigorously opposed by 
the more American prelates. 

In 1896 it was believed that Satolli was instrumental 
in securing the removal of Mgr. Keane from the rector- 
ship of the Catholic University at Washington, and 
when an intriguing German professor was dismissed by 
the University authorities and Rome demanded his 
restoration. Cardinal Gibbon forced the Pope to with- 
draw the demand. The ultras then — ^with the per- 
sistent aid of the Jesuits and their Civiltd Cattolica at 
Rome — attacked a biography of Father Hecker, of 
which an American translation had been published with 
warm recommendations from Ireland and Gibbon. 
A Roman prelate authorized the printing of a scathing 
attack on the book, and, although Rampolla protested 
that neither he nor the Pope was involved in the author- 
ization, the American prelates took up a menacing 
attitude. At this juncture Leo, whose repeated 
counsels to lay the strife had been disregarded, wrote 
his famous letter on Americanism to Cardinal Gibbon 
(January 22d, 1899). Piquant stories are told of the 
sentiments expressed by the American prelates, but 
these the historian cannot as yet control. The struggle 
ended in a compromise. The book was not condemned, 
but quietly withdrawn, and the American prelates 
generally disavowed the principles to which the Pope 
gave the name of Americanism. 

These are but feeble stmimaries of the vast diplomatic 
activity which absorbed the long days of the venerable 
PontiflF, and one must leave almost unnoticed other 
important actions. In 1885 he negotiated with the 
Chinese government for the representative of the Celes- 
tial Empire at Rome, but the French, rightly suspecting 
an intrigue on the part of Germany to strengthen its in- 

438 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

fluence in the Far East, forced him to desist. He had 
the satisfaction of dosing a schism in the Armenian 
Church (1878), and secured favourable measures in 
some of the Balkan States and a few of the South 
American republics. He restored the Borgia Rooms 
in the Vatican (1897), created a modem observatory 
out of the old Gregorian observatory of the sixteenth 
century (1888), formed a Reference Library of 30,000 
volumes at the Vatican, and opened the Vatican 
archives to scholars (1883).' FraU, worn to a pale 
shade of his former self, the devoted Pope maintained 
to the end his fomiidable struggle against a seceding 
worid. Rising at six in the morning — often having 
summoned his secretary to the bedside during the 
night — he said his mass and heard a mass said by 
his chaplain. Then after a cup of chocolate or 
goat's milk, he began the long day's work with 
Rampolla, or impressed his inntmierable visitors with 
his piercing dark eyes and translucent features. At 
two he dined — soup, eggs (rarely meat), and a little 
claret — and then, after a nap or a drive in the gardens, 
returned to work until his simple supper at ten. After 
that the journals of the world, carefully marked, were 
read to him ; and the burning lamp told of his ceaseless 
thinking and praying until after midnight. Fortu- 
nately he did not, like so many Popes, lack financial 
resources. The Papal income before 1870 had been 
about £130,000, and the Italian government had 
oflfered to pay this. When Pius IX. refused the offer, 
his income was swollen by voluntary gifts to £400,000 

* We have on earlier pages seen that parts of the archives are still 
reserved, even from ecclesiastics. On the general question sec G. 
Buschdell, Das Vatikanische Atchiv und die BedetUung seiner ErscItlieS" 
sung dutch Papst Leo XIII. (1903). 

Leo XIII. 439 

a year, and he left nearly a million and a quarter sterling 
to his successor. In addition to this large income Leo 
received vast sums on the occasion of his Sacerdotal 
Jubilee in 1888 and his Episcopal Jubilee in 1893: the 
presents (besides Peter's Pence) in 1888 were valued at 
£2,000,000 by the Vatican authorities, and in 1893 the 
money offered amounted to £1,600,000. 

The chief means by which the Pope created in his 
followers the illusion of triumphant statesmanship was 
the Encyclical. A most assiduous student of Latin 
from his boyhood, he raised the ecclesiastical tongue 
to a level it had rarely touched and impressed the world 
with his literary scholarship. A Roman prelate once 
described to me how he would linger over the composi- 
tion, toying with his pen and saying to his secretary: 
**What is that word that Sallust uses?" His style was 
an attempt to combine the graceful lucidity of Sallust 
and the opulence of Cicero. The literary merit of his 
Encyclicals was so great that even generally informed 
men at times overlooked the inadequacy of their con- 
tent: an inadequacy which is seen at once when we 
reflect that the great Encyclicals which dealt with the 
socio-political questions of the hour are not consulted 
by any non-Catholic authority on such questions. The 
attack upon Socialism which runs through his writings 
provoked only the smiles of his opponents and did not 
check the large secessions of French, German, and 
Italian Catholics to Socialism. A second principal 
theme was the duty of submission to authority, and the 
Pope's analysis of authority, on the basis of St. Thomas, 
belongs to the pre-scientific stage of sociology. A 
third general theme is that Catholicism made the civil- 
ization of Europe, and that that civilization is perishing 
because of its apostasy. In this argument the Pope 

440 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

not only gravely misunderstood the age in which he 
lived, but betrayed an historical conception of the 
social evolution of Europe which belongs essentially to 
the more backward seminaries. ' 

The chief Encyclicals, which were at one time 
claimed as masteriy expositions of eternal principles, 
have already passed out of even Catholic circulation. 
Qiwd Apostolici (December 28, 1878) is a vigorous 
attack on Socialism, on familiar lines, ^terni Patris 
(August 4, 1879) imposed the philosophy of St. 
Thomas, the opportunist character of which the Pope 
never perceived, on the modem Catholic worid.^ Ar- 
canum (February 14, 1880) asserted the strict Catholic 
ideal of indissoluble marriage, and had no influence 
on the increasing concession of divorce. Diuiurnum 
Qune 29, 1 881), written after the assassination of the 
Tsar, argued that these outrages naturally followed the 
abandonment of the true faith; it did not include an 
examination of the cruelties of the Russian authorities. 
Humanum Genus (April 20, 1884) condemned Free- 
masonry. Immorlale Dei (November 19, 1885) dealt, 
in Scholastic vein, with the constitution of States and 
the foundations of authority, and is a fine exposi- 
tion of mediaeval thought on the subject. In Plur- 
imis (May 8, 1888) condemned slavery in Europe. 
Libertas (June 20, 1888) is another Scholastic disser- 
tation on liberty, leading to an attack on the modem 

* An English translation of the chief Encyclicals has been issued by 
Wynne in America (1902). For other work see Poems ^ Charades ^ Irt" 
scriptions of Leo XIII. (1902, ed. Henry). 

* The injunction was not, of course, literally obeyed. At Lou vain 
University, where Leo believed that he had established Thomism in its 
purest form, Mgr. (now Cardinal) Mercier gave us little of St. Thomas, 
and not one priest in a thousand ever opens the pages of Aquinas. At 
Rome Leo set up a Thomist Academy at a cost of £12,000 to himself. 

Leo XIII. 441 

claims of freedom of thought, worship, and expression. 
Rerum Novarum (May 15, 1891) is the most famous 
of the Pope's utterances on social questions. The 
organization of the Catholic workers in Italy, France,- 
and America, and the concern about the condition of 
the workers (really about the growth of Socialism) 
which Bismarck and William II. had hypocritically 
conveyed to the Pope, moved him to formulate his 
views on social questions. The only points of relative 
importance are that a Pope at last consented to bless 
the efforts of the workers to obtain better conditions 
(with strict regard to private property and submission 
to authority), and that he pleaded for a ** sufficient 
wage"; but the seeming boldness of this latter truism 
was undone a few weeks later, when the Archbishop of 
Malines wrote to ask if an employer sinned against 
justice in giving a wage which would support the worker 
but not his family, and the Pope nervously directed 
Cardinal Zigliara to reply (anonymously) that such an 
employer would not sin against justice, though "pos- 
sibly against charity and natural equity."^ Providen- 
Hssimus Deus (November 18, 1893), which sought to 
promote biblical studies, caused Catholic scholars to 
groan in despair ; it proclaimed the inerrancy of the Old 
Testament.* ApostoliccB CurcB (September 13, 1896) 
condemned Anglican orders, and led to a prolonged 
controversy in England. Graves de communi Qanuary 

* See Mgr. de T'Serclaes, ii., 107-111. 

* I speak from personal recollection, being a professor in a seminary at 
the time. Leo went on to form a Biblical Commission, of which my 
liberal professor, Fr. David Fleming, became secretary. The first deci- 
sion it was his duty to sign was that Moses was the author of the Pen- 
tateuch! For the later doubts and despair of Leo see the very interest- 
ing details in A. Houtin's La Question Bihlique au XIX. sUcU (2d ed., 
1902) and La Question Bihlique au XX. sihde (2d ed., 1906). 

442 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

i8, 1901) shows the later enfeeblement of the Pope's 
social zeal. He still approves Christian democracy, 
and demands justice in the industrial world, but he 
stresses alms-giving as a social solution and urges 
particular concentration on religious eflfort. * 

The great Pope struggled on until his ninth decade of 
life had opened. He died on July 20, 1903, leaving 
his sternly contested inheritance to less skilful hands, 
marking, with his dying eyes, the onward progress of all 
the forces he had hailed as disastrous and the advance 
of "Americanism" (or Modernism) within the Church. 
His failure must not blind us to the greatness of his 
personality. He tuiited intellectual breadth and pene- 
tration with a high character and a lofty devotion to his 
work. His weakness was the antiquated and restricted 
nature of his knowledge and his inheritance of an unten- 
able position. The concessions he made to his age were 
too tardy, too grudging, and often too obviously oppor- 
tunist. With equal readiness he wrote a letter of 
recommendation of a work of canon law (by Marianus 
de Luca) which advocated the execution of heretics, and 
he blessed the republics of France and America. But 
the great theme of his life was that civilization was 
perishing because it had shaken oflf the allegiance of 
Rome, and he lived to see the world ** rounding onward 
to the light" and departing ever farther from its old 

» In the EncyclopcBdia BHlannica ("Leo XIII.") it is said that the 
Pope in 1902 advises the workers to turn aside from social zeal and 
concentrate on the interests of the Papacy. This seems to be inaccurate. 
His pronouncements of that year are of the same tenor as the Ency- 
clical Graves de communis See Sanclissimi D. N. Leonis XIII. Allocu^ 
tioneSf etc., vol. viii., pp. 65-78 and 18 1-2. The Americans have issued 
an English translation of the chief Encyclicals. 


Peter 67 

Linus / 67-79 

Anacletus 79"^ 

Clement 90-99 

Evaristus 99~i07 

Alexander 1 107-1 16 

Sixtus 1 1 16-125 

Telesphonis 125-136 

Hyginus 136-140 

Pius 1 140-154 

Anicetus 154-165 

Soter 165-^74 

Eleutherius 174-189 

Victor 189-198 

Zephyrinus 198-217 

Callistus I 217-222 

Urban 1 222-230 

Pontianus 230-235 

Anterus 235-236 

Fabian 236-250 

Cornelius 251-253 

Lucius 1 253-254 

Stephen 1 254-257 

Sixtus II 257-258 

' I include Peter, as is usual, though it must be recalled that no 
writer calls him " bishop *' of Rome until the third century, and it can- 
not be regarded as proved that he ever visited Rome. The date of his 
death, and the succeeding dates until the third century, and many 
later, are conjectural and disputed. 


444 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Dionysius 259-^68 

Felix 1 269-274 

Eutychian 275-283 

Caius 283-296 

Marcellinus 296-304 

•Marcellus 308-309 

Eusebius 309 

Melchiades 31I-314 

Silvester 1 314-335 

Marcus 336 

Julius 1 337-352 

Liberius 352-366 

Damasus 1 366-384 

Siricius 384-398 

Anastasius 1 398-401 

Innocent 1 402-417 

SJozimus 417-418 

Boniface 1 418-422 

Celestine 1 422-432 

Sixtus III 432-440 

N Leo 1 440-461 

Hilarius 461-468 

Simplicius 468-483 

Felix II 483-492 

^ Galasius 1 492-496 

Anastasius II 496-498 

Symmachus 498-514 

Hormisdas 514-523 

John 1 523-526 

Felix III 526-530 

Boniface II 530-532 

John II 533-535 

Agapetus 1 535-53^ 

Silverius. 536-53^ 

Vigilius 538-555 

Pelagius 1 556-5^1 

John III 561-574 


List of the Popes 445 

Benedict 1 575-579 

Pelagius II 579-590 

\^Gregory 1 590-604 

Sabinianus 604-606 

Boniface III 607 

Boniface IV 608-615 

Deusdedit 615-618 

Boniface V 619-625 

Honorius 1 625-638 

Severinus 638-640 

John IV 640-642 

Theodore 1 642-649 

Martin 1 649-655 

Eugene 1 654-657 

Vitalian 657-672 

Adeodatus 672-676 

Donus 676-678 

Agatho 678-681 

Leo II 682-683 

Benedict II 684-685 

John V 685-686 

Conon 686-687 

Sergius 1 687-701 

John VI 701-705 

John VII 705-707 

Sisinnius 708 

Constantine 708-715 

Gregory II 7I5-73I 

Gregory III 73i"74i 

Zachary 741-752 

Stephen II 752 

Stephen II (III) 752-757 

Paul 1 757-767 

Stephen III. (IV) 768-772 

Hadrian 1 772-795 

Leo III 795-816 

Stephen IV. (V.) 816-817 

446 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Paschal 1 817-824 

Eugene II 824-827 

Valentine 827 

Gregory IV 827-844 

Sergius II 844-847 

Leo IV 847-855 

Benedict III 855-858 

Nicholas 1 858-867 

Hadrian II 867-872 

John VIII.... 872-882 

Marinus I. (or Martin II.) 882-884 

Hadrian III 884-885 

Stephen V. (VI.) 885-891 

Formosus 891-896 

Boniface VI 896 

Stephen VI. (VII.) 896-897 

Romanus 897 

Theodore II 897 

John IX 898-900 

Benedict IV 900-903 

Leo V 903 

Christopher 903~904 

Sergius III 904-911 

Anastasius III 911-913 

Lando 913-914 

John X 914-928 

Leo VI 928 

Stephen VII. (VIII.) 928-931 

John XI 931-936 

Leo VII 93^39 

Stephen VIII. (IX.) 939-942 

Marinus II. (Martin III) 942-946 

Agapetus II 94^55 

John XII 955-964 

Leo VIII 963-965 

Benedict V 964-965 

John XIII 965-972 

List of the Popes 447 

Benedict VT 973-974 

Benedict VII 974"983 

John XIV 983-984 

Boniface VII 984-985 

John XV 985-986 

Gregory V 986-996 

John XVT 997-998 

Silvester II 999-1003 

John XVII 1003 

John XVIII 1003-1009 

Sergius IV 1009-1012 

Benedict VIII 1012-1024 

John XIX 1024-1032 

Benedict IX 1032-1045 

Gregory VI 1045-1046 

Clement II 1046-1047 

Damasus II 1048 

Leo IX 1049-1054 

Victor II 1055-1057 

Stephen IX. (X) 1057-1058 

Benedict X 1058-1059 

Nicholas II 1059-1061 

Alexander II 1061-1073 

Gregory VII 1073-1085 

Victor III 1087 

Urban II 1088-1099 

Paschal II 1099-1 118 

Gelasius II 1 1 18-1 1 19 

Callistus II II 19-1 124 

Honorius II 1124-1130 

Innocent II 1130-1143 

Celestine II 1143-1144 

Lucius II 1144-1145 

Eugene III 1145-1153 

Anastasius IV Ii53-ii54 

Hadrian IV 1154-1159 

Alexander III 1159-1181 

448 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Lucius III 1181-1185 

Urban III 1185-1187 

Gregory VIII 1 187 

Clement III 1 187-1 191 

Celestine III 1 191-1 198 

Innocent III 1198-1216 

Honorius III 1216-1227 

Gregory IX 1227-1241 

Celestine IV 1241 

Innocent IV 1243-1254 

Alexander IV 1254-1261 

Urban IV 1261-1264 

Clement IV 1265-1268 

Gregory X 1271-1276 

Innocent V 1276 

Hadrian V 1276 

John XXI^ 1276-1277 

Nicholas III 1277-1280 

Martin IV 1281-1285 

Honorius IV 1285-1287 

Nicholas IV 1288-1292 

Celestine V 1294 

Boniface VIII 1294-1303 

Benedict XI 1203-1304 

Clement V 1305-1314 

John XXII 1316-1334 

Benedict XII 1334-1342 

Clement VI 1342-1352 

Innocent VI 1352-1362 

Urban V 1362-1370 

Gregory XI 1370-1378 

Urban VI 1378-1389 

* On account of some confusion in mediaeval chronicles, a spurious 
"John XV." was inserted in the list of Popes. Hence John XXI was 
really John XX., but the names of the later Popes are so fixed that it 
seems better, as is usually the case, to skip from John XIX to John 

List of the Popes 449 

[Clement VII 1378-1394] 

Boniface IX 1389-1404 

[Benedict XIII 1394-1424] 

Innocent VII 1404-1406 

Gregory XII 1406-1415 

Alexander V 1409-1410 

John XXIII 1410-1415 

Martin V 1417-1431 

Eugene IV 1431-1447 

Nicholas V 1447-1455 

Callistus III 1455-1458 

Kus II 1458-1464 

Paul II 1464-1471 

Sixtus IV 1471-1484 

Innocent VIII 1484-1492 

Alexander VI 1492-1503 

Pius III 1503 

Julius II 1503-1513 

Leo X 1513-1521 

Hadrian VI 1522-1523 

Clement VII 1523-1534 

Paul III ^. 1534-1549 

Julius III 1550-1555 

Marcellus II 1555 

Paul IV 1555-1559 

Pius IV 1559-1565 

Pius V 1566-1572 

Gregory XIII 1572-1585 

\^ixtus V 1585-1590 

Urban VII 1590 

Gregory XIV 1590-1591 

Innocent IX 1591 

Clement VIII 1592-1605 

Leo XI 1605 

vPaul V 1605-1621 

Gregory XV : 1621-1623 

Urban VIII 1623-1644 

450 Crises in the History of the Papacy 

Innocent X 1644- 

Alexander VTI 1655- 

Clement IX 1667- 

Clement X 1670- 

Innocent XI 1676- 

Alexander VIII 1689- 

Innocent XII 1691- 

Clement XI 1700- 

Innocent XIII 1721- 

Benedict XIII 1724- 

Clement XII 1730- 

Benedict XIV 1740- 

Clement XIII 1758- 

Clement XIV 1769- 

Pius VI 1775- 

Pius VII 1800- 

Leo XII 1823- 

Pius VIII 1829- 

Gregory XVI 1831- 

Pius IX 1 846^ 

Leo XIII 1878- 

Pius X 1903- 

Benedict XV 1914- 


















Accolti, Caxdinalf 317 

Acquaviva, Cardmal, 356, 357 

Acquaviva, General, 344 

Acla S. CailisU, 7, 17 

Acta S, SUvestri, 87, 88 

^rfi4n|/w, 435 

Adelchis, 93 

Adelperga, 94 

Adriano da Cometo, 263 

iEneas, Sylvius, 241, 243 

jEterni Patris, 408, 440 

Aiiarta, Paul, 83, 84 

African Church, Rome and the, 20, 

Agnes, the Empress, 145, 147, 150 
Agnes de Mcran, 188 
Aistulph, 80-3 
Albani, Cardinal, 357, 392 
Albericof Camerino, 131, 133, 139 
Albert of Brandenburg, 304 
Albigcnsians, massacre of the, 

Alcuin, 78, 97 
Alexander, 11., 147, 149 
Alexander, III., 173 
Alexander V., 228 
Alexander VI., 242-66 
Alexander Severus, 16 
Alexis, Comnenus, 193 
Alfonso of Leon, 157 
Alfonso 11. of Naples, 254, 256, 


Alidosi, Cardinal, 278 

Allen, Cardinal, 246 
Altheim, Synod of, 138 
Ambrose, St., 30, 31, 35, 38 
America, the Papacy and, 389, 

411, 412, 436 
Americanism, 432, 437 
Ammianus Marcellinus, 24 
Anastasius, 75, 102 

Anatolius of Thessalonica, 41 
Anselm of Baggio, 145 
Anselm of Lucca, 147, 150, 152 
Anliphonary, the, 62 
Antondli, Cardinal, 402-3, 407, 

ApostolioB Cur(B, 436 
Aretini, 275 
Ariald, 145 
Arianism, 19, 21, 31 
Arichis, 92, 93, 94 
Ariosto, 281, 301, 302 
Arnold of Brescia, 174 
Arnold of Citeaux, 195, 198, 199 
Amulph, 127 

Arsenius, L^ate, 109, 112, 126 
Art in medieval Rome, 266, 282- 

Astrology at Rome, 274 

Attila, 50-1 

Atto of Vercelli, 133 

Austria expelled from Italy, 399, 

Auxentius, 28, 37 

Auxilius, 129 

Avignon, the Popes at, 203-22 


Baglione, G., 274 
Bajazet, the Sultan, 256 
Baldwin of Flanders, 1 10, 192 
Baluze, S., 205 
Barbarossa, Frederic, 173 
Barry, Dr. W., 129 
Basil, St., 32 
Basilica Julii, 24, 25 
Basilica Liberii, 25 
Basilica Sicinini, 25 
Basle, Council of, 240 
Beatific Vision, John XXII. and 
the, 219 




Beatrice of Tuscany, 148, 163 
Benedict III., 103, 107, 113 
Benedict IX., 140, 143 
Benedict X., 146 
Benedict XI., 203 
Benedict XIII., 227, 238 
Benedict XIV., 353-67 
Benedict of Soracte, 128, 1^0, 135 
Benedictines, the, and the classics, 

Bentivoglio, 274, 378 
Benzo, Bishop, 142, 147 
BerengaTj King, 150, 134 
Berengana of QDistile, 189 
B^renger, 144 
Bernard, of Qairvaux, 172 
Bemetti, Cardinal, 395 
Bertha of Lorraine, 134 
Bertinian Annals, the, 112 
Bertrand de Goth, 207 
Bertrand de Poyet, 216 
Bibbiena, Cardinal, 287, 290, 303 
Bible, early translation of the, 36 
Bismarck and Leo XIII., 428-30 
Bonaparte, Jerome, 379 
Bonitace I., 39 
Boniface VIIL, 203, 209 
Boniface IX., 223, 224 
Bonitho, Bishop, 142, 151, 164, 

Book of Gomorrha, 144 
Book of Pastoral Rule, 61 
Borgia, Caesar, 244, 258, 260, 263, 

267, 272 
Borgia, Jofre, 244, 256 
Boigia, Juan, 244, 256, 258 
Boigia, Lucretia, 244, 250, 254, 

255, 260, 262 
Boigia, Pedro Luis, 244 
Boigia, Rodrigo, 261 
Boxgia Family, the, 242 
Bor^a Rooms, the, 438 
Boris, King, 116 
Bramante, 283 

Breviary, reform of the, 358-9 
Brosch, M., 246, 269 
Brosses, President de, 353, 354 
Bruce, Robert, 219 
Brunetti, A., 398 
Brunichildis, Gregory and, 71 
Brussels, Leo XIII at, 418-9 
Bulgaria and the Papacy, 137, 

Buoncompagni, Cardinal, 333, 334 
Burchard, J., 245, 249, 262 


Cacault, 374 
Cadalus, Bishop, 147 
Cajetan, Legate, 307 
Caiandria, l£e, 303 
Calixtus III., 242 
Callistus, Pope, 6-18 
Cambrai, League of, 376, 377 
Canon of Scripture, early, 36, 55 
Canossa, Henry IV. at, 163,165- 

Capocd, Giovanni, 176, 177 

Caprara, Cardinal, 376 

CaiaSa, Cardinal, 259 

Carbonari, the, 388, 395 

Cardinal, the title, 146 

Cardinalate, reform of the, 339 

Cardinals in the fifteenth century, 


Carlism, the Vatican, 433 

Carlomann, 84 

Caroline Books, the, 97 

Caroline Islands, the, 429 

Carpophorus, 8 

Carvajal, Cardinal, 275, 289 

Cassiodorus, ^8 

Catacombs, the, 3, 26, 36 

Cataldi, Mgr., 421 

Cathari, the, 182 

Catherine of Siena, 222 

Cavour, 405, 406 

Celestine I., 39 

Celestine III., 174 

Celibacy of the cleigy, 145-6, 152, 

Cclidonius, 42 

Cenci, 160 

Censorship, early claims of, 55, 

Cesena, massacre of, 222 

Chabrol, Count de, 384 

Chalcedon, Council of, 47-9, 74 

Charlemagne, 84, 85-6, 90-97, 99, 


Charles Martel, 79 

Charles the Bald, 108, 109, 115, 

Charles the Simple, 137 
Charles II., 206 
Charles V., 295, 297, 298, 307, 

Charles VI., 362 
Charles VIIL, 256-8 
Chigi, the banker, 302 



China, Jesuits in, 364 
Chixia, Leo XIII., and, 457 
Choiseul, 357, 360 
Christianity, early cxmdition of, i- 


Christopher, Pope, 128 

Cib6, Franceschetto, 248 
Cib6, Innocenzo, 290 
CivHia CaUolica, the, 406 
Qement I., 4, 5 
Qement III., 169, 173 
Clement IV., 209 
Clement V., 203, 206, 217 
Clement VI., 209, 221 
Clement VII., 223, 31 1-2 
Clement XI., 360 
Clement XII^ 354, 355, 357 
Clement XIII., 368 
Clement XIV., 368, 369 
Colonna, M. A., 294 
Commentary on the First Book of 

Kin^s, 63 
Conmimges, Count de, 190 
Conciliar Movement, the, 227, 

232, 240 
Concordat with Napoleon, 374-^f 

Conradin, 202 

Consalvi, Cardinal, 371, 372, 

375. 377. 387-9 , 
Constance, Council of, 234-8, 240 

Constance of Sicily, 180 

Constantine, 21 

Constantinople, Council of, 32, 33, 

48, 49 
Constantinople, Pall of, 241 
Constantinople taken by the 

Latins, 193, 194 
Constantius, ip, 23 
Constanza of Aragon, 181 
Contarini, Cardinal, 322 
Conti family, the, 173 
Conti, Ricardo, 177 
Comaro, Cardinal 302 
Cornelius, Pope, 3 
Costa, Cardiiml, 2^9 
Counter-Reformation, the, 310 
Crespy, Peace of, 325 
Crispi, 426 

Crusade, the Fourth, 101-4 
Culture, early decay ot, 57, 62-3, 

Cyprian, St., 20 
Cyriacus, 75 
Cyril of Alexandria, 39, 44 

D'Agnesi, Maria Gaetana, 358 
Damasus, 21-37 
D'Amboise, Cardinal, 268, 375 
Damiani, Peter, 144, 145, 147, 151 
Dammann, Dr. A., 16^ 
Declaration of theGaUicandeisyt 

Delarc, O., 142 
Desiderius of Vienne, 62, 71 
Deusdedit, Cardinal, 151, 
Dialogues of Gregory the Great, 59 
Didier, Abbot, 149, 153, 169 
Didier, King, 83-5, 90 
Dietrich von Nieheim, 323, 225 
Dio Cassius, 16 
Dionysian Decretals, the, 120 
Dioscorus of Alexandria, 44--6 
Discipline of the early Church, 13 
Divorce in the early Church, 29 
Djem, Prince, 256, 257 
D611inger, Dr., 3, 8, 9, 13, 151, 

Dominic St., 196, 201 
Dominus ac Redemptor Noster, 369 
Donation of Constantine, 87, 241 
Dovizo, Bernardo, 287, 290 
Duchesne, Mgr., 89, 130, 131 
Dflmmler, £., 129 
Dupanloup, 409 


Eastern Church, Rome and the, 
31-3, 44-50, 73-6, 105-6, 

Ebbo of Rheims, 113, 119 

Edict of Milan, 21 

Eginhard, 82, 99 

Elizabeth of Spain, 363 

Encyclicals of Leo Xlll., 439, 440 

Endre, Prince, of Hungary, 190 

England and the Papacy, 58, 71, 
94, 148, 185-8, 219, 229, 309, 
312, 346, 363, J8i, 411, 435-6 

Ephesus, Council of, 46 

Epigrams of Damasus, 36 

Erigena, John Scotus, 115 

Ethelbert, 72 

Etsi Nos, 425 

Eudocia, 105 

Eudoxia, the Empress, 52 

Eugenius IV., 240 

Euloeius, 75 

Euseoius, K>pe, 20 



Eusebius of Dorylsum, 48 
Eustochium, Jerome's letter to, 

Eutycnes, 45, 46 

Ex Quo Singulari, 365 

ExecrabiliSf 210 

Exsurge, Domine, 308 

Pantuzzian Fragment, the, 81, 88 
Pamese, Alessandro, 316, 321, 

325, 326 
Parnese, Giulia, 249, 252, 253, 254 
Pamese, Vittoria, 325 
Pebronianism, 362, 370 
Pedele, P., 129 

PeUda, daughter of Julius II., 271 
Pelix, Anti-Pope, 23, 24 
Perdinand of Spain, 275, 276, 291 
Perdinand VI., 361 
Perrante of Naples, 255 
Perrara and Julius II., 281 
Pesch, Cardinal, 378 
Plavian, 45-7 
Plodoard, 131, 136 
Pontana, 345 
Forged Decretals, the, 104, 105, 

Porgeries of Middle Ages, 87, 88 
Pormosus, 125, 127, 132 
Poulques of Marseilles, 196, 198 
Prance and the Papacy, 42, 71, 

79-87» 97. 157. 188. 194-200, 
219, 256-8, 276-8, 289, 304, 
347. 360-1, 400-2, 431-2 

Prance, Anatole, 2 

Prancis I., 292, 293, 295, 297, 317 

Prancis, St., 201, 202 

Prancis Joseph I., 412 

Prankenstein, Baron, 429 

Prankfort, Synod of, 97 

Pratricelli, the, 214 

Prederic the Great, 356, 364 

Prederic of Saxony, 307, 308 

Prederic of Sicily, 180, 182, 185 

Preemasonry, Benedict XIV. and, 

Pnedrich of Tirol, 234, 236, 237 

Pusdanus, 9 

Gabrielli, Cardinal, 382 
Gaeta, flight to, 401 

Galflei, Galileo, 352 
Galla Placidia, 47 
Garibaldi, 405, 406, 407 
Gattina, Petrucelli della, 371, 393 
"Gelasian Decree," the, 36, 37, 

Gelasius I., 37, 55, 115 
Gerbert, 139 
Germany and the Papacy, 108-9, 

158-69, 182-5, 215-8, 229, 411, 


Gfr5rer, 142 

Ghibellines, the, 182, 216 

Gibbon, Cardinal, 436, 437 

Gioberti, 397, 418, 420 

Giovio, Paolo, 291, 300 

Gizzo, Cardinal, 399 

Glaber, Raoul, 140 

Godfrey of Tuscany 148 

Grassis, P. de, 291 

Gratian, the Emperor, 27, 38 

Gratian, John, 140, 143 

Great Schism, the, 221-3 

Gregory I., 57-77 

Gregory III., 79 

Gregory VII., 141-70 

Gregory X., 204 

Gregory XL, 222 

Gregory XII., 226, 227, 231 

Gregory XIII., 332, 334 

Gregory XVI.. 392, 395, 396 

Gr6vy, President, 432 

Grisar, Pather, 11, 1 8 

Guelphs, the, 182 

Guibert of Ravenna, 168 

Guido of Spoleto, 127 

Guiscard, Robert, 148, 155, 168, 

Guise, Duke of, 347, 348, 349 
Gunther, 108, 10^ 
Guy, the Cistercian, 195 


Hadrian I., 81, 83, 84-100 
Hadrian II., no, 118, 125, 126, 

Hadrian IV., 174 
Hadrian VI., 311 
Hecker, Father, 437 
Helletrude, in 

Henry III. (Germany), 143, 144 
Henry IV. (Germany), 154, 158- 




Henry V. (Germany), 172 
Henry VI. (Germany), 178, 179 
Henry III. (France), 346, 347, 349 
Henry IV. (France), 347, 348, 


Henry VIII. (England), 277, 279, 

292, 293. 294, 309 
Hcribert o£ Vennandois, 137, 138 
Herimano of Cologne, 138 
Herlembald, 148, 159 
Hermingard, 84 
Hilary, St., and the Papacy, 4* 
Hildebrand. Stt Gregoiy Vll. 
Hildsfirand, 92, 93 
Hildwin, 112 
Hincmar of Rheims, 105, III-13, 

119. 120 
Hippolytus. 7, 8, 11, 12, 17 
Historia Augusta, tlie, 16 
Hodgkin, Dr., 88, 90 
HohensUuSens, the, 182, 30a 
Honoriua I., 79 
Hontheim, Johann von, 37* 
Hormisdas, 55 
Hrodgaud. 93 
Hrian, Cardinal. 372 
Hubner, Baron dc. 333, 343 
Hucbert. 107 
Hugh Candidus, Cardinal, 149, 

Hugh of Provence, 138, 139 
Hugucs Giraud, 211, ara 
Hungarians in Italy, the, 135 
Huns. St. Leo and the. $0 
Hus, John, 232, 235, 238 
Hutten, Ulrich von, 305, 308 


Ignatius of Antioeh, 4 
Ignatius of Constantinople, 105-7 
Ignatius of Loyola. 331. 333 
Image- worship, quarrel about. 97 
Immaculate Conception, the, 403- 

Index of Prohibited Books, the 

first, 55 
Indulgences, origin of the Spanish, 

Indulgences, traffic in, 225, 331, 

Infallibility, straggle over, 409- 

Innooent I., 38, 39 

Innocent III., 137, I4I, 171-201 

Innoceat VII., 226 

Inquisition, the, at Rome, 334, 

Inscrulahile, 423 
Inlerest Aposlolica Sedis, 183 
Invesliture-struggie. the, 15a, 172 

Irene, the Empress, 94, 96 
Irmengard, 135 
Isaac Comnenus, 193 
Italy, Unification of, 405-7 


.'acobini. Cardinal, 426 
. acqucs de Via, 313 
ames III.. 363 

?nists, the, 360- 1 
of Jandun, 215 
ne.St.. 22,23,27,34,36 
ne of Prague, 232 
esuits, the. 343. 352, 360, 364. 

Jews, the Papacy and the, 65 
lews, Sixtus V. and the, 343 
John VIII., I3.S, 136, 133 
loha IX., 131 
John X., 126-38 
John XI., 128, 130, 131, 138 
John XII., 139 
lohn XXII., 205-20 
rohn XXIIL, 221-39 
[ohn of Bohemia, 218 
fohn C^btrano, 241 
John the Faster, 73-4 
John Lackland and the Papacft 

John of Ravenna. 114 
Joseph II., 355, 369, 370 
Josephine, divorce of. 378, 383 
Judith, no 
Julius 1 1.. 246, 247, 250, 355. 257, 

Julius III., 331 

Kailo of RAvenna, 133 
Keane, Mgr., 437 
Kitto, B. J., 323, 335 



Knights of Labour, the, 436 
Kuiturkampf, the, 427-30 

La Balue, Cardinal, 248 
Ladislaus of Hungary, 157 
Ladislaus of Naples, 223, 227 
Lambert of Hersfeld, 164, 166 
Lambruschini, Cardinal, 392 
Landulph, 145 
Lanfranc, 154, 156 
Langton, Stephen, 186-7, 188 
Languedoc, heresy in, 195 
Lateran basilica, the, 20, 25, 56 
Lateran Council, the Fourth, 200 
Lateran Council, the Fifth, 280, 

282, 303 
League, the Catholic, 347, 348 
Leo I., 39-54 
Leo II., 79 
Leo III., loi 
Leo IV., 102 
Leo v., 127 
Leo IX., 144 

Leo X., 248, 250, 287-309 
Leo XII., 391 
Leo XIII., 415-42 
Leo the Isaurian, 53 
Leonardo of Arezzo, 223, 227 
Leonetti, A., 243 
Leontia, the Empress, 76 
L'Epinois, H. de, 243, 245 
Leti. Gregorio, J33 
Liber Pontificalts, the, 8, 11, 24, 

80, 87-9 
Liberius, 19, 22, 23 
Liverani, P., 129, 132 
Lollards, the, 232 
Lombards, the, in Italy, 56, 66, 

68,79.92-3 . 
Lothair of Lorrame, 107, 109, no 

Lottery, the Papal, 357 

Louis of Anjou, 228, 229, 230 

Louis of Bavaria, 215, 216, 217 

Louis II., 103, 107-9 

Louis VIII., 188 

Louis XII., 260, 261, 274, 277-8, 


Louis XVIII., ^14 

Luchaire, Achille, 175 

Luciferians, the, 30 

Luitprand, Bishop, 130, 132, 136 

Luitprand, King, 79 

Lun^viUe, Treaty of, 374 
Luther, Martin, 252, 299, 306-9 


Macarius, 30 

Magic, John XXII. and, 212 

Magna Charta denounced by 

Innocent III., 188 
Magna Maralia, 59, 63 
Malabar Rites, the, 364 
Malatesta of Rimini, 230 
Mandragola, 303 
Manfred, 202 
Manichsans, the, 41, 43 
Manichsism, 195 
Manning, Cardmal, 409 
Marcia, 6 
Marcian, 47, 50 
Maria Theresa, 362 
Marie of Brabant, lOO 
Markwald of Anweiler, 179, 180, 

Marozia, 128-32, 135-6, 138, 139 
Marriage, the Papacy and, 188, 

189, 190 
Marsiglio of Padua, 215 
Martens, Dr. W., 142, 160 
Martin I., 79 
Martin V., 240 

Martyrology, reform of the, 359 
Mary Stuart, 346 
Mathew, Dr., A. H., 142, 153, 167, 

Mathilda of Tuscany, 148, 150, 

155. 163, 165 
Matteo Visconti, 216 
Maurice, the Emperor, 68, 69, 

Maury, Cardinal, 371 

Maximilian, the Emperor, 273, 

275, 276, 277, 294 
Maximinus, 27 
May Laws, the, 428, 429 
Mazzini, 396, 398, 404 
Medici, Catherine de', 347 
Medici, Cosmo de*, 239 
Medici, Giuliano de', 290, 292 
Medici, Giulio de', 290 
Medici, Lorenzo de' (nephew of 

Leo X.), 290, 297, 298 
Melchiades, 118 
Menachtni, the, 262 
Mercier, Cardinal, 440 
Michael, Angelo, 283, 301, 329 



Micbad de Cesena, 315 
Michael the Drunkard, 105, 106 
Michiel, Cardinal, 263 
MiliU, Karl von, 307 
Milo, the Legate, 198 
Miollis, General, 381 
Mirandola, G. P. della, 304 
Modemiam, 432, 437, 443 
Montfort, Simon de, 199, 200 
Monti di Pieti, 303 
Moialit7 in the euly Church, 33- 


Napoleon I. and the Papacy, 370, 

Napoleon III., ^00, 405 
Nepotism at the Vatican, 174, 

244-60, 271, 390, 391, 315, 316, 

320. 331 
Newman, Cardinal, 409 
Nicaa, Council of, 96 
Nicholas I., 102-23 
Nicholas II., 146, 147 
Nicholas v., 217, 341 
Nicholas of Cusa, 341 

Ockham, William of, 319 

Offa, 94,96 

Olivarez, Count, 347 

Organic Articles, tTie, 376, 377 

Orsini, the, 174, 177 

Orsini, Adriana, 249, 252 

OTsini, Cardinal B., 363 

Orsini, GiuUa, 349, 353, 353, 254 

Orsini, Laura, 253, 371 

Oisini, Paolo, 334 

Orsini, Virginio, 355 

Otto I., 139 

Otto of Brunswick, 183, 183, 184 

Oxford Movement, the, 435 

Pacca, Cardinal, 381-3, 387 
Pagi. 121) 

Pallavicino, Cardinal, 275 
Pandolpho, tlie Legate, 187, 1P8 
Papal supremacy, evolution of. 

5. 30-1. 37. 39. 44. 48, S3, 67, 

74-6, 103 
PamelUsm 434-5 
Paachasinus, 49 
Pallor /Elemus, 410 
PastoureauK, the, 319 
Patarenc3, the, 145, 14S, 159 
Patrimonies, the Papal, 64, 79 
Paul at Rome, 4 
Paul I., 83 
Paul II., 346 

Paul III., 353, 313-39, 363 
Pedro of Aragon, 190, 199 
Pelafiius, Pope, 58 
Pepoli, Count, 338 
Peretti, Alexander, 336 
Peretti, Camilla, 334, 341 
Peretti, Francesco, 334 
Persecution, the I^pacjr and, 43, 

yo, I9G 
Persico, Mgr., 435 
PeuiRino, 283 
Peter at Rome, 4 
Peter, brother of^John X., I35 
Peter of Carbara, 217 
Petrarch, 311, 3i6 
Pctrucci, Cardinal, 295 
Philip II., 186, 187,188, 198 

Philip in., 203, 207 
Philip VI., 217. 220 

Philip of Anjou, 202 
Philip Ncri, St., 333 
Philip of Suabia, 179, 163-4 
Phocas, the Emperor, 76 
Photius, 105, 106 
Pierleone, (Ordinal, 183 
Pierlcone, Giovanni, 176, 177 
Pierre de Castelnau, 195, 197 
Pignatelli, Cardinal, 387 
Pinturicchio. 266, 283 
Pippin, Donation of, 80-3 
Pirie-Gordon, C. H. C, 175 
Pisa, Council of, 22B, 229 
Pisa, second Council of, 378, 379 
Pius II., 343 
Pius III., 368 
Pius IV., 331 
Pius v., 333, 334 
Pius VI., 369, 373 
Pius VII., 371-90 
Pius VIII., 393 
Pius IX., 393-413. 435 
Plebiscites m Italy, 405, 406, 408 
Pliny, 3 



Poles, the Vatican, the, 434 

Poli, Oddo, 177 

Pontianus, 18 

Pragmatic Sanction, the, 286, 294, 

Pnmacy, tdea of the, 6, 30, 37, 39, 

Pucci, Lorenzo, 290 
Pulcheria, 46, 47 

Quanta Cura^ 407 
Quiercey Donation, the, 81 


RampoUa, Cardinal, 426, 429 
Raphael, 301 
Ratherius, Bishop, 133 
Ratisbon, Diet ot, 322 
Ravenna and the Papacy, 67, 68 
Raymond of Toulouse, 196-9 
Rayaaldus, 243 
Reformation, the, 286, 304-9 

312, 317-30 
Reformation, foregleams of the, 

215, 232, 241, 286 
Reginald of Canterbury, 186 
Renaissance, the, 241 
Renier, the Cistercian, 195 
Rerum Navarum, 441 
Revolution, the French, 370, 372 
Riario, Cardinal, 296 
Riario, Pietro, 246 
Richard the Lion-Heart, 185 
Robert of Geneva, 222, 223 
Robert of Naples, 216, 217 
Romwald, 94-5 
Roquain, P., 142, 151 
Roscoe, W., 291 
Rosmini, A., 400, 402 
Rossi, G. B. de, 8, 9, 13 
Rossi, Pellegrino, 400 
Rothrad of Soissons, 111-12, 119 
Rotrud, 96 
Roy, Jules, 120, 121 
Rudolph II., of Burgundy, 134 
Rudolph of Suabia, 159, 163, 165, 

167, 168 

Sabellius, 12 
SacrametUary, the, 62 

St. Bartholomew, Massacre of, 

Sta. Maria Maggiore, 25 
St. Peter's, building of, 274, 283 
Sala, Cardinal, 417 
Saldanha, Cardinal, 365 
Sancho of Portugal, 190 
Sanfedisti, the, 388, 396 
Sangallo, 329 

Sanseverino, Cardinal, 289 
Sant' Angelo, Castle of, 60 
Sanuto, M., 253, 291 
Satolli, Mgr., A37 
Sauli, Cardinal, 296 
Savona, Pius VII. at, 383-5 
Savonarola and Alexander VI., 

Scatfgoch, Bishop, 364 
Schmalkaldic League, the, 327, 

Schwemer, R., 185 
Seigius III., 125, 127, 128, 129, 

Sergius IV., 139 

Servatus Lupus, 118 

Severus, Bishop, 68 

Sforza, Cardinal Ascanio, 248, 250 

Sforza, Giovanni, 254, 259 

Sforza, Lodovico, 255, 258 

Sigismund of Hungary, 229-30, 

Silvester I., 20 
Silvester II., 139, 143, 157 
Simeon of Bulgaria, 137 
Simony at Rome, 210, 224-5, ^5^* 

268, 301 
Sirianus, Pope, 37 
Sixtus III., 39 
Sixtus IV., 244, 246 
Sixtus v., 332-50 
Slaves, the Papacy and the, 65 
Socialism and the Vatican, 424, 

427, 428, 431. 441 
SoUicitudo Omnium, 388 

Solomon of Brittany, 119 
Solomon of Hungary, 157 
Spain and the Papacy, 70, 154, 

157, 189-90, 260, 347-9. 361 
Spina, Archbishop, 374 
Spirituals, the, 214 
Stephen I., 80 
Stephen II., 80-2 
Stephen III., 83 
Stephen IV., 83 
Stephen V., loi 



Stephen VI., 125. 126, 127 
Stephen X., 145, 146 
Stephens, W. R. W^ 142 
Strom, the banker, 302 
Stuarts, the Vatican and the, 563 
Salpkaus Severus, 31 
Syaigrios, Bishop, 71 
SyUabos, the, 407 

Talleyrand, 376, 380 
Talleyxand-Pdrigord, Coun t es s , 

Talmud, condemnation of the, 219 
Tancred of ^dly, 181 
Tarasius, 96 
Tassilo, 93 
Tedald, 160 

Templars, suppression of the, 203 
Temporal power, b^^inning of the, 

78-83, 86-90, 05 
Tencin, Cardinal, 354, 355 
Tertullian, 5, 13 
Tetzel, 306 

Teutonic Knights, the, 219 
Theodora of Rome, 128, 129-32 
Theodora, the Empress, 56 
Theodoric, 55 
Theodosius, 32, 33 
Theophylactus, 128, 132 
Theutberga, 107, no 
Thomas Aquinas, philosophy of, 

Three Chapters, the, 67 
Trans tibenna, the, i, 16 
Trent, Council of, 323-8, 330, 33 1- 

Trosl6, Cotmcil of, 133 
Turribius of Astoxga, 43 


Unigenitus, 360 

Urban I., 11, 18 

Urban II., 172 

Urban VI., 222 

Urban VIII., 352 

Urbino, Duchy of, 294, 295, 298 

Ursicinus, Anti-Pope, 25-7 

Valens, 31 

Valenti, Cardinal, 357 

Valentinian I., 27, 29, 37 

Vakntiniaii H^ ^ 
Valla, Loreoio^ 141 
Vandah, Leo and ihe^ 51-* 
Vannooa det Ohuuki, X|5 
Vatican, the, 178 
Vatican Coimcil, the, 401^^10 
Vatican, eariy state of the, 1, 1 
Vatican Libimiv, the, 438 
Venanttos and Urcfory the GRvAt, 

Venioe and the Aqptcy, 27Jr-3, 

Ventura, ?•, 397 
Victor L, 5, 9 
Victor IIL, 140 
Victor Emmanuel I^ 406 
Vienna Congress, the, 388 
Viventius, 25, 27 
Voltaire, 356 
Vulgarius, 129, 130 


Waldeck-Rousaeau, 43a 
Waldrada, 107, 109, no 
Walpole, Horace, 356 
Walter de Brionnc, 181 
Wenilo of Sens, 118 
William II. and the Papacy, 430 
William of Burgundy, 156 
William the Conqueror, 148, 156 
Wiseman, Cardinal, 379 
Worms, Diet of, 308 
Wulfad, 1 13 
Wyclif, 232 

Ximenes, Caxdinal, 301 

York, Cardinal, 363 

Young Italians, the, 395, 396 

Zacharv I., 7j), 80 
Zara, the takmg of, 199, 193 
2:elanti, the, 388 
Zephyrin, Pope, 6, 10 
Zigliara, Carainal, 441 
2k)6imus, 39